Religious Liberty is under Attack Worldwide

In an article entitled, “Religious Freedom in Retreat,” Eric Metaxas warns that religious liberty is under assault worldwide.  Thomas Farr, director of The Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center, is quoted by Metaxas as stating that nearly three quarters of the world’s population (almost 5 billion) live in nations where religious freedom is severely restricted.

For those who think that this hostility is unique to the Middle East, North Africa and some portions of Asia, Farr notes that “French government restrictions have increased too, moving it ahead of CUBA [emphasis mine] in that category.”  In fact, Europe which is historically Christian “is the region with the largest proportion of nations where hostility toward religion is rising . . . Social hostility in the United Kingdom has increased so much that the country now stands with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the category of ‘high’ social hostility to religion.” 

In North America, religious liberty is also under attack.  Since the beginning of the legalization of gay marriage in 2005, Canada has had 200-300 proceedings against defenders of traditional marriage including Christians and that’s not counting employment boards and human rights commissions.  Under President Obama’s healthcare law, it has become compulsory for even religious institutions to provide coverage to contraceptives and abortion services that those religious entities feel run contrary to their convictions.    

Eric Metaxas reminded his readers that Chuck Colson stated repeatedly that “religious freedom is called the first freedom for a reason.  As our founding fathers knew, without it, no other freedom could be secure.  Around the world, we are seeing that first freedom under increased pressure.  

Citing the Pew Research Center, Farr wrote, “We are today in the midst of a global crisis in religious liberty.  In two exhaustive studies, the Pew Research Center recently concluded that 70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is severely restricted, by either governments or private actors.  And the problem is getting worse.  The second report, in 2011, found that between mid-2006 and mid-2009 the situation deteriorated in twice as many countries as it improved.” 
In 23 of the world’s 198 countries, the 2011 report saw an increase in restrictions on religious beliefs and practices from the study period of 2006 to 2009.  It decreased in 12 countries and remained the same in another 163.  Nearly a third of the world’s population is under increasing assault in regard to freedom of religion over the course of the three years of the study.  Only 1% of the world’s population has enjoyed a decrease in hostility.

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