Christianity Today covered a recent study by Pew Research recording how government persecution of religious groups is reaching a record high. The study compiles data from 198 countries in 2019, before the pandemic.
Here’s a breakdown of five findings from the article:
1. 57 countries (29% of countries in the study) have either “high” or “very high” government restrictions on religion.
These numbers are one country more from what they were in 2018 and are at the highest recorded point since 2012.
2. 91% of countries in the study reported at least one incident of “government harassment against religious groups.”
The study defines harassment against religious groups as a range “from verbal intimidation to physical violence motivated at least in part by the target’s religious identity.”
3. 48% of countries reported “government use of force” against members of religious groups.
According to the study, physical harassment and “government use of force” included reports of “property damage, detention or arrests, ongoing displacement, physical abuse, and killings.”
“China, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Sudan, and Syria tallied over 10,000 incidents each,” said Christianity Today.
4. 28 countries have government-imposed online restrictions on religious groups.
28 out of the 198 countries in the study reported using online restrictions. This includes “50 percent of the Middle East and North Africa (10 nations), and 30 percent of Asia-Pacific (15 nations). Two European nations and one from the Americas complete the list.”
Online restrictions often include blocking websites or videos. In the United Arab Emirates, the government-run internet providers blocked access to online testimonies from Muslim converts to Christianity.
5. 10 countries in the study use surveillance technology to track religious groups.
China, Russia and Vietnam are the top three countries to surveille religious groups, often citing the need for counterterrorism measures as reasoning.
“In China,” said Christianity Today, “authorities used facial recognition technology to monitor and collect biometric data on Uyghur Muslims and other groups deemed to be potential threats.
Continue reading about the study by Pew Research here.
Image: Carl Court / Getty Images
Acquired from Christianity Today article “Pew: Religious Terrorism at Record Low, Government Persecution at Record High”