(RNS) Most of the world’s population (76 percent), lives in countries with high levels of social and government restrictions on religion, according to a new Pew Research Center report.
The sharp rise is due to hostilities in China, which for the first time in the survey’s six-year history, scored a “high” level of religious strife. Home to more than 1.3 billion people, China experienced an increase in religion-related terrorism, mob violence and sectarian conflict.
The greatest levels of social hostilities toward religion were felt in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia, Israel and Iraq, according to the report.
Among the world’s most populous countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan and Burma had the worst overall religious restrictions in 2012, while Brazil, the Philippines, Japan, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the fewest.