The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released a fascinating study on the state of religious freedom around the world.
Two years in the making, with a third year needed to analyze and collate the data, the study finds that 64 of the 198 nations studied -- about one-third of the countries in the world -- have "high or very high restrictions on religion." But because many of these are among the most populous nations on Earth, in fact 70% of the world's people live in countries where practicing their faith can be difficult or even impossible.
Pew studied both official and unofficial obstacles to freedom of worship, those imposed by the state and those that abound in society at large.
In some countries, governments are very restrictive but the public is quite open to other creeds. China is a good example. Most ordinary Chinese express support for the right of all people to believe and worship as they choose, while the Chinese cracks down, often murderously, on Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and others.
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