Religious Freedom in a World of Religious Restrictions
About half a decade ago John F. Kennedy spoke these famous words: “tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others” (1930). Nowadays the issues of tolerance, oppression and persecution are still relevant, especially with regard to religion. Even though globally and nationally religious restrictions are increasing, without most Western people’s awareness, there is hope for an increase in religious freedom in the future.
RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS INCREASING WORLDWIDE
Statistics World Wide
Religious restrictions are on the increase globally the PEW research conducted in 2011 uncovered (Pew Research Center 2012). The number of countries with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs increased most. A lot of the countries with high or very high restrictions are highly(?) populous countries, so the percentage of people currently living in countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices is 75. The PEW research measured both governmental restrictions and social hostilities occurring in most countries around the world. Governmental restrictions included government laws, policies and actions that restrict religious beliefs or practices. Social hostilities included acts of religious hostility by private individuals and social groups. Overall both variables increased worldwide. The PEW research attributes the rise in restrictions to increases in crimes, malicious acts and violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, and increases in government interference with worship or other religious practices. Particular religions, like Jews, Christians, Buddhists, adherents of folk or traditional religions and members of other world religions, were increasingly harassed. At a time when the Western world prides itself on alleged open-mindedness, politically correctness and equality for all humans, it comes as a surprise that Western countries also were increasingly religiously restricting, both on government restrictions and social hostilities. The Youtube documentary mentioned that the Obama administration is less concerned with religious freedom, which could be one of the factors that is causing this increase in religious restrictions, not only in the Western world, but also worldwide because countries do not fear retribution from the mighty US now if they persecute religions (CBN News 2012). Overall the Middle-East and North Africa region was highest on both government restrictions and social hostilities, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, followed by Europe, followed by the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and lastly the Americas. The research found bi-directional relationships between governmental restrictions and social hostilities. Government restrictions that favor one religion over others, use force against religious groups, fail to intervene to stop religious discrimination and limit conversion from one...