Globally, Social Hostilities Related to Religion Decline in 2019, While Government Restrictions Remain at Highest Levels

  • Description
  • Key findings

In this report on violence and harassment against religious groups in 2019, Pew's researchers used a fine-tuned methodology to rank religious restrictions in 198 countries and territories, finding that 43 countries had "high" or "very high" levels of social hostilities towards members of various religions — down from 53 countries in 2018 and 65 countries in 2012. Much of this movement is accounted for by a decrease in the number of countries experiencing religion-related terrorism. In 2019, 49 countries experienced at least one such terrorist act, down from a high of 82 countries in 2014.

The survey found that the decrease in the prevalence of the social hostilities was not matched by a similar decline in government restrictions on religion, including official laws, policies and actions ranging from bans on conversion to restrictions on religious attire. The total number of countries with "high" or "very high" levels of such restrictions in 2019 increased slightly to 29% of the countries surveyed. In total, 180 countries had at least one instance of government religious harassment, up from 175 countries in 2018.