‘Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion’

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

“Restrictions on religion rose in each of the five major regions of the world,” a new survey from Pew finds.

According to the report:

The share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose from 31% in the year ending in mid-2009 to 37% in the year ending in mid-2010. Because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, three-quarters of the world’s approximately 7 billion people live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion, up from 70% a year earlier.

Restrictions on religion rose not only in countries that began the year with high or very high restrictions or hostilities, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, but also in many countries that began with low or moderate restrictions or hostilities, such as Switzerland and the United States. 

Yep, the United States. And, this report does not yet include the events of the last year. It does, however, provide the context — a rising tide of intolerant secularism  – that’s allowed this White House to display its attitude in the open. A “gathering storm” of “increasingly bold ideologically driven and progressively intolerant secular humanism” is how D.C.’s Donald Cardinal Wuerl described it at a forum on religious liberty last week at Georgetown University. 

You’ve got to wonder what chance, say, Nigerians have at religious liberty when all too many of us don’t even see what’s going on at home, including the president’s regulatory rewriting of religious liberty in the U.S. On August 1 of this year, Americans in business no longer had religious freedom as we’ve understood it. The Department of Justice has argued that they don’t, and they can no longer assume to have conscience protections if they decide to become employers.

We’re not Nigeria, but as I asked in my syndicated column this week, which focuses on an innocent teenage girl with Downs syndrome in Pakistan who suffered under the blasphemy law there, what happens when a Nigerian Christian’s liberty is infringed, and we are no longer a beacon for religious freedom the world over?

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