Earlier today, the Pew Research Center released a special report on global restrictions on religion around the world. The Pew Research Center is a non-partisan organization that conducts public opinion polling and demographic research around the world.
The entire report (pdf here) is about 80 pages, so it is too much to ask you to read all of it. However, do read the summary page here (hint: that means reading the summary page is required for the class).
Let me point out a few things that stood out to me.
First, "Government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years, according to Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion." We should expect slight upticks and downticks from year to year, so it is not the slight uptick that is so important but rather that there has been a more noticeable increase in religious restrictions and hostility over the last decade.
Second, "The global rise in social hostilities reflected a number of factors, including increases in mob violence related to religion, individuals being assaulted or displaced due to their faith, and incidents where violence was used to enforce religious norms." The increases were around the world: Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere.
Third, Europe had the largest increase in measures of government harassment of religious groups. "Two countries in Europe, France and Russia, each had more than 200 cases of government force against religious groups – mostly cases of individuals being punished for violating the ban on face coverings in public spaces and government buildings in France, and groups being prosecuted in Russia for publicly exercising their religion."
Fourth, "Jews and Muslims remain victims of social hostilities in most European countries," and "Muslims and Christians – who together make up more than half of the global population – continued to be harassed in the highest number of countries."
These trends in global hostility of religion constitute one of the most important trends in religion today.