December 17, 2009

Global Restrictions on Religion

Summary of Results

Government Restrictions on Religion

To assess the level of restrictions on religion by governments around the world, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life selected the following 20 questions for the Government Restrictions Index (GRI). The Pew Forum’s staff then combed through 16 published sources of information, including reports by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and various nongovernmental organizations, to answer the questions on a country-by-country basis. (For more detail, see the Methodology.)

This summary shows the questions, followed by various possible answers and the number and percentage of countries that fell into each category. For example, on Question No. 5 – “Is public preaching by religious groups limited by any level of government?” – the study found that 135 countries had no reported limits on preaching, 37 countries had limits on preaching by some religious groups, and 26 countries had limits on preaching by all religious groups.

To see how each country scored on each question, see the Results by Country.

This summary covers the period from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2008, and shows whether particular religious restrictions occurred at any time during that period according to the multiple sources analyzed by the Pew Forum. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Download the full Summary of Results (17-page PDF)

Social Hostilities Involving Religion

To assess the level of social hostilities involving religion around the world, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life used the following 13 questions for the Social Hostilities Index (SHI). The Pew Forum’s staff then combed through 16 published sources of information, including reports by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and various nongovernmental organizations, to answer the questions on a country-by-country basis. (For more detail, see the Methodology.)

This summary shows the questions, followed by various possible answers and the number and percentage of countries that fell into each category. For example, on Question No. 12 – “Were there incidents of hostility over proselytizing?” – the study found that 129 countries had no reported incidents of hostility over proselytizing, 39 countries had incidents that fell short of physical violence and 30 countries had incidents involving violence.

To see how each country scored on each question, see the Results by Country.

This summary covers the period from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2008, and shows whether particular religious hostilities occurred at any time during that period according to the multiple sources analyzed by the Pew Forum. In some questions, events going back to 2005 are also included in the findings if they still were having an ongoing impact. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Download the full Summary of Results (17-page PDF)


Cite this publication: Joseph Liu. “Global Restrictions on Religion.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (December 17, 2009) http://www.pewforum.org/2009/12/17/global-restrictions-on-religion/, accessed on July 22, 2014.