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Joy to 30% of the World Kate Moos, managing producer
For apparently the first time ever, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has gathered global data on religious freedom — and the lack of religious freedom — around the world. It makes for disturbing reading.
Seventy percent of the world’s population suffer restrictions on religious liberty. The study points out that not all religious oppression is conducted by the prevailing governments. Private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and social groups also persecute and restrict religious practice.
Since I’ve worked at Speaking of Faith, I’ve become used to being challenged by people who think the only worthwhile thing to say about religion is that it has caused a tremendous amount of injustice and human suffering. I understand that point of view and can find it emotionally persuasive. But what has always drawn me to this work is the idea that religion and faith are also the repositories for some of our most important knowledge, and our highest moral aspirations. Data such as these should give people of all faiths pause.
What would it look like to live in a world where all were guaranteed religious freedom? As 2010 approaches, it is astonishing that so few people in the world know what that is.