Global Restrictions on Religion


The Pew Research Center has a new report, “Global Restrictions on Religion.” From the executive summary:

“Global Restrictions on Religion,” a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that 64 nations — about one-third of the countries in the world — have high or very high restrictions on religion. But because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, nearly 70% of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with heavy restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.

Some restrictions result from government actions, policies and laws. Others result from hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups. The highest overall levels of restrictions are found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices. But government policies and social hostilities do not always move in tandem. Vietnam and China, for instance, have high government restrictions on religion but are in the moderate or low range when it comes to social hostilities. Nigeria and Bangladesh follow the opposite pattern: high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions.

Among all regions, the Middle East-North Africa region has the most government and social restrictions on religion, while the Americas are the least-restrictive region on both measures. Among the world’s 25 most populous countries, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and India stand out as having the most restrictions when both measures are taken into account, while Brazil, Japan, the United States, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom have the least.

Pentecostals and evangelicals have a stake in religious freedom since the gospel is a free offer of salvation to be received by faith, not under threat of force. We should stand up for religious freedom everywhere!

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