Seventy percent of people in the world live in countries with high levels of restrictions on religion, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The study assessed restrictions in 198 countries and territories, covering a two-year period from 2006 through 2008. The report ranked countries by two measures: government restrictions on religion and restrictions that come from violence or intimidation by private individuals or groups.
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have the highest government and social restrictions on religion, while the Americas are the least restrictive region, by both measures. In the United States, the report found, government restrictions are few, but the level of religious hostilities exceeded those reported in other democracies.
The report noted that most countries provide for “religious freedom” in their constitutions or basic laws, but only a quarter respects the legal right in practice.