By Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News.
Government and social interference with religious practice decreased in 2014, but people of faith faced more threats from terrorist groups, according to Pew Research Center’s latest report on global religious restrictions and hostilities.
“Of the 198 countries included in the study, 24 percent had high or very high levels of government restrictions in 2014 (the most recent year for which data are available), down from 28 percent in 2013,” Pew reported. The share of countries with high or very high levels of social hostilities also dropped, from 27 percent to 23 percent.
The organization has released an annual review of religious restrictions since 2007, using research from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the United Nations and independent, nongovernmental organizations.
Government restrictions include laws and policies that ban proselytization or give preferential treatment to one faith group. Religiously motivated attacks, such as vandalizing a mosque, that are perpetrated by private individuals or groups affect a country’s social hostilities score.
“In the absence of an effective way to measure religious freedom, this is a great way to measure tangible things” and present a broad picture of government restrictions and social hostilities around the world, said Katayoun Kishi, a research associate at Pew.
The report is primarily targeted at government institutions, organizations focused on religious freedom and other leaders, but Pew hopes it also helps everyday people feel more informed about the policies and behaviors impacting religious practice around the world, she added.
Related article: Trends in Global Restrictions on Religion