Olli Dürr

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State pressure on religious groups is increasing



Pressure on religious groups is increasing worldwide. The local governments of the countries play the only role here, because the reprisals from society have decreased.

State reprisals are increasing

The US statistics and opinion poll company Pew Research Center investigated an interesting question. Who puts greater pressure on the practice of religion, the governments or the people? After evaluating the current situation in 198 countries and territories, the company comes to the conclusion that although societies’ hostility towards religions has decreased, the extent of restrictions on religion worldwide has reached its highest level to date as of 2021 (Source).

According to the Pew 10-point index from 0 to 10, restrictions imposed by governments on religious communities increased from an average of 1.8 points in 2007 to 3.0 points in 2021. This index reflects a total of 20 measures taken against religious communities. This includes government laws and policies that restrict religious beliefs and practices, including complete bans on certain faiths. Also taken into account are restrictions on preaching, proselytizing and converting, as well as preferential treatment for other religious groups.

Four countries with “very high” pressure

State power
All over the world the state is becoming more and more invasive

In 55 countries (28% of the total), state and social restrictions against religious groups were “very high” or “high”. Only four countries were rated “very high”, namely Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt.

In the USA, the state index value rose to 2.1 in 2021 (2007: 1.0). In Europe the value climbed from 1.7 to 3.1 points. The index value in the Asia-Pacific region rose from 3.2 to 4.2 points. In the Middle East and North Africa the value rose from 4.7 to 5.9 points, while in sub-Saharan Africa it rose from 1.7 to 2.6 points.

China reached the highest level of government restrictions with 9.1 points. Religious groups in Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Maldives, Russia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan must expect permanent, sometimes massive, government restrictions.

The index value for social influences on religious troops fell from 2.0 in 2018 to 1.6 points. The lowest value to date of 1.2 points was achieved in 2009.

Pandemic as a reason

In 2021, state-sanctioned harassment of religious groups and interference in religious services dominated worldwide. Pew found such measures in 183 countries. Harassment ranged from derogatory statements made by officials to the use of physical violence.

Numerous government interventions in church services in 2021 were justified by the declared Covid pandemic. In Canada, according to Pew, three churches were each fined for refusing to comply with lockdown measures. The affected churches filed a lawsuit because other faith communities, such as Orthodox or Jewish groups, as well as restaurants, were less affected by these restrictions. In addition, there were some arrests of clergy because they held church services contrary to the state’s measures.

The Chinese government imposed the largest restrictions against religions in 2021. On the other hand, the greatest pressure from society was exerted in Nigeria.

Favors are also common

In 161 countries, the respective governments granted benefits to religious groups in 2021. Conversely, the survey company counted 149 countries in which governments harassed religious groups: In 134 countries, governments interfered in religious services.

The greatest support from governments is the provision of religious education (127 countries). In 107 countries, state leaders also ensured the protection of religious property.

Largest groups most harassed

Bahai Religion
Religions in general under pressure

The religious groups most affected include Christians and Muslims. In 2021, Christians were targeted by governments in 160 (up from 155) countries. In 2007 there were 107 countries.
Muslims faced government harassment and harassment in 141 (previously 145) countries. In 2007 the number was 96 countries.
Jewish communities also had to experience restrictions in 91 countries (previously 94). The starting point in 2007 was 51 countries.

Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Bahá’ís suffered less harassment, but at least in 64 countries. Also less affected were Buddhists (28 countries), Hindus (24 countries) and the groups of agnostics, atheists and humanists (27 countries).

Time to realign priorities – hier

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6 (unabridged)

Bible verses from King James Version

State pressure on religious groups is increasing
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