Government restrictions on religion are at their highest since tracking began in 2007, the Pew Research Center has said in its new report, finding that 56 countries reached “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions on religion in 2018.
“In 2018, the global median level of government restrictions on religion – that is, laws, policies and actions by officials that impinge on religious beliefs and practices – continued to climb, reaching an all-time high since Pew Research Center began tracking these trends in 2007,” Pew said Nov. 10. While the rise from 2017 was “relatively modest,” it continues the “substantial rise” in restrictions.
To track trends in religion, the Pew Research Center has created a Government Restrictions Index, a 10-point scale using 20 indicators. It has also created an index of social hostilities. While the coronavirus epidemic has prompted a wave of debate about restrictions on religious gatherings, Pew’s latest report concerns the year 2018.
According to Pew’s analysis, the Middle East and North Africa region still had the highest median level of government restrictions on religion, 6.2, up from 6.0 in 2017. Eighteen countries, which make up 90% of the region, have high or very high levels of restrictions.