Sunday, December 20, 2009

Global Restrictions on Religion

Since I decided to post notes on religious holidays in December, I have paid more attention to stories online about religion. The recent Pew Report covered religious violence, intolerance, intimidation and discrimination in 198 countries around the world.

The report notes that 90% of those countries have some requirement that religious groups register with the government, usually for a benefit such as a tax exemption. About 25% of countries have majority groups that use force or threats of force against minority groups, and more than 2 out of 3 people live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion.

The US has a low level of government restriction but a moderate amount of social tension. Hate Crimes are reported to the FBI, and they include crimes of religious bias. About 1400 of those are reported every year, and from nearly all 50 states.

I live in the South, where racial tension is more evident; laws against hate crimes do not eliminate hate crimes. A nearby motel is owned by an older couple from Pakistan, and I notice they are seldom seen out in public. My favorite librarian is of Far Eastern background, and although she does not wear the traditional dress, I suspect she is generally shunned for being 'different' and probably under surveillance as a potential terrorist just for her ethnic heritage.

Is anyone safe anymore?

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