Good riddance to the aughts, naughts or ohs. By whatever name, the first decade of the 21st century has been devastating for religious liberty in much of the world.
The statistics are numbing. According to a study released this month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people now live in countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices.
The study measures limits on religious freedom caused by government policy, laws and actions as well as restrictions imposed by private individuals, organizations and social groups. Some countries, China and Vietnam for example, have high government restrictions but moderate or low hostile acts by private individuals and groups. Other countries, such as Nigeria, are high in social hostilities but moderate in government restrictions.
The worst offenders are countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, with high levels of both governmental and societal limits on religious liberty. (The full report is available at www.pewforum.org.)
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