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70 percent of nations face religious restrictions
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
December 23, 2009

70 percent of nations face religious restrictions

70 percent of nations face religious restrictions
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
December 23, 2009

WASHINGTON — About one-third of the countries in the world

have high restrictions on religion, exposing almost 70 percent of the globe’s population

to limitations on their faith, new research shows.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life based its

analysis, released Dec. 16, on 16 sources of information, including reports from

the U.S. State Department and human rights groups as well as national

constitutions.

Overall, one-third of the countries were found to have high

or very high restrictions on religion as a result of government rules or

hostile acts by individuals and groups. Religious minorities often feel the brunt

of hostilities because they are perceived as a threat to the culture, politics

or economy of a country’s majority population, the

72-page report said.

“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,”

the Pew Forum concluded.

In some countries, such as China and Vietnam, government restrictions

on religion were high, compared to moderate or low social hostilities. In

contrast, nations such as Bangladesh and Nigeria had moderate level of

government restrictions but ranked high in social hostilities.

Three-quarters of the countries affirm religious freedom in

their laws or constitutions, and an additional 20 percent protect some religious

practices.

But researchers found that about a quarter of the governments “fully

respected” the religious rights included in their laws.

The findings were based on an investigation of 198 countries

and territories, which represent 99.5 percent of the world’s population, from

2006 to 2008.