Government restrictions on religious freedom and social hostility toward religion saw a slight decline in 2013, a newly released report from Pew Research Center noted.
These findings come one year after Pew reported a surge in religious hostility, which reached a six-year high in 2012.
In the 198 countries surveyed, high levels of government restrictions saw a reduction from 29 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2013, while high levels of social hostility declined from 33 percent to 27 percent.
However, this didn’t impact the total percentage of the global population facing government restrictions of and social hostility toward their religion.
There was 1 percent increase from 2012 to 2013 in global restrictions on religion.
“Because some of these countries (like China and India) are very populous, about 5.5 billion people (77 percent of the world’s population) were living in countries with a high or very high overall level of restrictions on religion in 2013, up from 76 percent in 2012 and 68 percent as of 2007,” Pew explained.
While the two largest faith traditions, Christianity and Islam, had the highest numbers of adherents living in nations with restrictions on and social hostility toward their faith, the total number of countries in which these groups faced persecution declined in 2013.
Judaism saw another year of increased persecution and harassment, facing high religious hostility in 77 countries, up from 71 in 2012. This is a seven-year high.
China, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Egypt had the highest levels of government restriction on religion, while Israel, India, Palestinian territories, Pakistan and Nigeria had the highest levels of social hostility toward religion.
“Among the world’s 25 most populous countries, the highest overall levels of restrictions were found in Burma (Myanmar), Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices,” Pew noted.
The full report is available here.