This is the third in a series of reports by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices. These reports have drawn widespread attention to the fact that a substantial portion of the world’s population – 75% as of mid-2010 – lives in countries where governments, social groups or individuals restrict people’s ability to freely practice their faith. The reports also have generated significant interest for how they bring social science research methods to bear on the study of religious restrictions. The methodology used in the reports provides a quantitative framework that those involved in the study of religious freedom can use to monitor changes in restrictions on religion over time, across the world, in specific geographical regions and in individual countries.
The new report looks at the extent and direction of change in religious restrictions from the year ending in mid-2009 to the year ending in mid-2010. Where appropriate, it also compares the situation as of mid-2010 with the situation in the baseline year of the study (mid-2006 to mid-2007).
Explore the report using the table of contents to the right or the resources below.
2011 Report: The August 2011 report, "Rising Restrictions on Religion," found that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the world’s 198 countries (12%), decreased in 12 countries (6%) and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries (82%).
2009 Report: The December 2009 report, "Global Restrictions on Religion," established baseline levels of religious restrictions in 198 countries due both to government actions and to acts of violence and intimidation by private individuals, organizations and social groups.
Download the full report as a PDF (5.59MB, 86 pages)
Download the Government Restrictions Index table as a PDF (1MB, 3 pages)
Download the Social Hostilities Index table as a PDF (1MB, 3 pages)
Download the Index Scores by Region as a PDF (1.12MB, 7 pages)
Download the Summary of Results as a PDF (1.23MB, 22 pages)
Download the Results by Country as a PDF (294KB, 47 pages)
Restrictions among the 25 Most Populous Countries
See how restrictions on religion in the world's 25 most populous countries have changed from mid-2007 to mid-2010.
Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread
A November 2012 analysis finds that as of 2011 nearly half the countries and territories in the world have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation.
Cross-National Influences on Social Hostilities Involving Religion and Government Restrictions on Religion PDF (250KB, 11 pages)
An October 2012 analysis of religious restrictions data examines various ways in which events in one country often are reported to have contributed to social hostilities related to religion and government restrictions on religion in another country.
This report is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project.