Government restrictions on religion are at their highest level around the globe since 2007, according to Pew Research.
In an analysis of data from 2018, the most recent full year for which data is available, Pew found an increase in laws, policies and actions by officials that impinge on religious beliefs and practices.
Pew’s analysis found the restrictions reached an all-time high in 2018 since Pew began tracking these trends in 2007.
Pew found a rise in the number of governments using force, such as detentions and physical abuse, to coerce religious groups.
56 countries at high or very high level of restrictions
As of 2018, most of the 56 countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions on religion are in the Asia-Pacific region or the Middle East-North Africa region.
The rise included some isolated instances but also widespread use of government force against religious groups, including Christian minorities in some countries.
China has the highest score on the Government Restrictions Index out of all 198 countries and territories in the study. China has been near the top of the list every year since the study began.
The Chinese government restricts religion in a variety of ways, including banning entire religious groups (such as the Falun Gong movement and several Christian groups), prohibiting certain religious practices, raiding places of worship and detaining and torturing individuals.
Tajikistan also stands out this year, as the Tajik government has amended its religion law, increasing control over religious education domestically and over those who travel abroad for religious education. The amendment also requires religious groups to report their activities to authorities and the country has denied some minority religious groups official recognition.
Read the full Pew report by clicking here.