Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread
On Nov. 20, a Pakistani court ordered blasphemy charges dropped against a Christian teenager who had been accused of burning pages from the Quran. A new Pew Forum analysis finds that as of 2011 nearly half the countries and territories in the world have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation.
Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress
The newly elected 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none.” While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago.
Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion
Between mid-2009 and mid-2010, religious restrictions rose not only in countries that began the year with high or very high restrictions, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, but also in many countries that began with low or moderate restrictions, such as Switzerland and the United States. The report looks at restrictions due to government actions as well as acts of violence and intimidation by private individuals, organizations and social groups.
Infographic: The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity
The world’s Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during Ramadan and almsgiving to assist the needy. But they have widely differing views about other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam.
Catholics Share Bishops’ Concerns about Religious Liberty
A new survey report finds that Catholics who are aware of U.S. bishops’ concerns about restrictions on religious liberty generally agree with the bishops’ concerns. Yet there are no significant differences in the presidential vote preferences between Catholic voters who have heard about the bishops’ protests and those who have not.
Religion in Prisons – A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains
According to a survey of professional prison chaplains, America’s state penitentiaries are a bustle of religious activity. Chaplains say that efforts by inmates to convert other inmates are common and that at least some religious switching occurs. And chaplains overwhelmingly consider religion-based programming an important aspect of rehabilitating prisoners.
Public Divided Over Birth Control Insurance Mandate
Americans who have heard about the federal rule that would require employers to provide birth control as part of their health care benefits are closely divided over whether religiously affiliated institutions should be given an exemption. Sharp divisions of opinion exist on the issue by religious affiliation, party and ideology.