Pew study shows that Christians are still the most persecuted group globally
Christians continue to be the most persecuted group globally either through government restrictions or social harassment, a new study revealed recently.
The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released recently a new study, Rising Restrictions on Religion, covering the period mid-2006 to mid-2009.
The study shows that there has been a general increase in government restrictions and social hostilities towards religion globally, with the largest amount of oppression being experienced by Christians at 66 percent globally in 130 countries.
Incidents of violence related to religion also rose by 51 percent, including incidence of death, physical abuse, imprisonment, displacement from homes, and damage of personal and religious properties.
While Christians experienced the highest incidence of social and government harassment in 130 countries at 66 percent, they were followed by the Muslim faith group at 59 percent in 117 countries. Together, both faith groups comprise more than half of the global population.
The third faith group to experience the highest incidence of widespread harassment and hostility are the Jews, at 38 percent in 75 countries. However, Jews only cover less than one percent of total global population.
According to the study, over 2.2 billion people out of a total global population of 6.9 billion live in countries with a rise in hostilities and restrictions towards religion. Only one percent of the global population lives in countries where restrictions and hostilities have decreased.
The Pew study also noted that countries where there was a rise in hostilities and restrictions towards religion already had high to very high levels of the same, even before the survey period that was covered.
Almost half of the countries that indicated a decrease in hostilities and restrictions, conversely, took place in nations that had already scored low in these areas before the survey period. This may indicate a possible growing polarization globally.
The study was based on 18 publicly-available information sources that have been widely cited, such as reports by the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and Human Rights Watch.
Other findings in the study are:
Rise in government restrictions
- Substantial increase on government restrictions on religion occurred in Nigeria, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia and the U.K., largely due to a rise in social hostility levels.
- Substantial increase in government restrictions and social hostility in Egypt and France occurred mainly due to government restrictions.
- The largest proportion of increases in government restrictions on religion occurred in countries located in the Middle East-North African region, where 30 percent, or almost one-third of nations in the area imposed greater government restrictions.
- Egypt ranked among the top five percent of all countries where government restrictions and social hostilities towards religion increased.
Rise in social hostilities
- Five out of 10 countries with a substantial rise in social hostilities are in Europe. They are Denmark, Sweden, Bulgaria, Russia and the U.K.
- Countries in Asia that experienced a substantial rise in social hostilities regarding religion are Thailand, Vietnam and China.
- In Europe, the largest proportion of social hostilities towards religion rose from mid 2006 to mid 2009.