A new study published by the Pew Research Center has indicated that global hostility to religion is on the rise. Pew assessed 198 countries in 2016, discovering an overall increase from its 2015 study.
“More than a quarter (28%) of countries had ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of government restrictions on religion in 2016, an increase from 25% the year before. This is the largest share of countries in these categories since 2013,” the report noted. There were some notable countries who ascended up the rankings of anti-religious enforcement. One of these was the South East Asian nation of Laos. The government of Laos recently introduced a law that bans any religious activity the authorities believe might threaten the country’s customs or laws.
In roughly 10 percent of countries where religious expression was harshly curbed, governing authorities engaged in overtly nationalist rhetoric to justify its oppressive action. The insinuation is that taking part in a religious activity was detrimental to civilian contribution to society as a whole.
“[Sixteen percent] of countries in the report had organized social groups that used nationalist rhetoric against religious minorities in the country, an increase from 14% in 2015,” noted Pew’s Katayoung Kishi. “About one-in-ten countries (11%) had government actors (including public officials or political parties) that used nationalist rhetoric against members of a particular religious group, compared with 6% the year before.”
Pew noted that the two main faiths coming under the fiercest oppression were Christianity and Islam, which are the two largest religions in the world.
The report listed China, Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia and Turkey as the countries who place the most severe restrictions on religious expression. “China had the highest levels of government restrictions on religion, while India had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion,” Pew noted. “Both countries had the highest levels of restrictions in these respective categories, not only among the 25 most populous countries but also in the world at large.”