Christians are being harassed in 143 countries worldwide as governmental restrictions on religion increase, according to a major report released recently.
A squeeze on religion is happening not only in authoritarian countries, but also in many of Europe’s democracies, according to the findings.
The Pew Research Center, which released its 10th annual Report on Global Restrictions on Religion, looked at developments up to 2017.
It said 52 governments, including those in Russia and China, impose high levels of restrictions on religion, up from 40 governments in 2007.
It said 56 countries in 2017 were experiencing social hostilities involving religion, up from 39 in 2007.
The report ranked the United Kingdom as being high on its ‘social hostilities index’.
According to the report, social hostilities toward religion include ‘violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations or groups’.
Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, welcomes the Pew report.
But they are concerned the report is behind the times on China where persecution is intensifying, and omits North Korea.
Paul Robinson of Release International said, ‘The report reinforces the excellent new review of Christian persecution by the Bishop of Truro which has now been accepted by the government.
‘Release was pleased to contribute research for that report. Release also welcomes this latest Pew report, but the sheer breadth of their investigation means it is behind the times.
‘From our own findings, we would say that insufficient emphasis is placed on the growing restrictions in China and the severe persecution of Christians in North Korea’.
‘These [Pew Research Center] findings are very disturbing, but the research stops at 2017. The following year, China imposed even tougher new restrictions to clamp down on Christians in their country. As a consequence, the persecution levels in China are even higher than this research reveals’.
Mike Judge, editor