The best (and worst) countries for religious freedom

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  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    April 22, 2015 4:24 p.m.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, 3 seems like a pretty good score. Like others, I suggest we move on to more important matters in the USA.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    April 22, 2015 1:12 p.m.

    The United States is not a very free country these days.

    Two rights that, I thought, would always be maintained here, were the right to freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms.

    Of the first some forums at least are still pretty good at allowing all opinions when avoiding name-calling (the DNews is one of the better ones), though people are more and more afraid to give their opinions now in public for fear of retaliation, losing one's job etc. The second constitutional right, to keep and bear arms, now very much depends on the State in which you live.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    April 22, 2015 10:06 a.m.

    How about we stop worrying about "religious" freedom and start worrying about just "freedom."

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    April 21, 2015 11:09 a.m.

    I could 'believe' that Brazil has greater religious 'freedom', than say the US. For the article Religious Freedom appears to be defined as laws enacted by the State, which may control, monitor, declare 'legal' etc, in regard to religious expression.

    So, in Brazil given the large number of 'native' populations there may not be any government program to 'convert', or 'coerce' those people to some other religious system, say the Christian Religion.

    That sort of Religious Freedom did not really exist in the US, until very recently, and even now all non-Christian religions systems are measured in terms of what is considered acceptable to Christians.

    Of course, 'mormons' have their own Fundamentalists, who would engage in plural marriages due to their religious beliefs.

    Yet the State of Utah has had laws on the books criminalizing this 'expression' of religious belief, and only recently has this been limited by the court in prosecution of husband and wives.

    I would rate Utah's Religious Freedom to be 4 or 5, on this account.

    It seems that often Religious Freedom means 'Freedom to practice 'my' brand, all others need not apply'.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    April 21, 2015 11:05 a.m.

    I didn't cover one important point in my prior comment. There is one clear example of Brazil surpassing the United States in terms of religious freedom, at least so far:

    "Since May 14, 2013, same-sex marriage has been a right of all same-sex couples to access marriage status, due to a sweeping Federal Court ruling, which denies notaries of states who do not recognize same-sex marriage the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. Same-sex unions have been legally recognized in Brazil since 2004. Since 2013 same-sex couples enjoy the provisions of several constitutional principles and the absence of prohibitive legislation." (-- Wikipedia)

    No one's right to marriage in Brazil is impeded by any national religious influence. Religious freedom is freedom FROM religion as much as (or maybe even more than) it's freedom OF religion. This separation of Church and State is even more impressive, as the country is 65% Roman Catholic.

    So, if you want to emulate Brazil's religious freedom, we could start with that.

  • OneHumanFamily Provo, UT
    April 21, 2015 8:32 a.m.

    The "religious freedom" articles are reaching comical levels.

    Brazil and South Africa? Both countries have some of the worst poverty and income inequality in the world. I was in Brazil on my mission, and if there are few restrictions on religion, it is because there are few restrictions on anything.

    And I find it ironic that religion freedom is now under attack in the US, but it was not under attack when people were writing discrimination into constitutions to limit the religious freedoms of LGBT people.

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    April 21, 2015 8:27 a.m.

    "Frankly, government needs to restrict religion more."
    Frankly, @Ranch, government needs to restrict less, religion or not. How much imposition on your liberty are you willing to accept?

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    April 21, 2015 8:23 a.m.

    Another DN "story" that relies on cherry-picking data out of someone else's report.

    At Pew's site, this report is led by "Social Hostility Against Jews At 7-year High." If we want to talk about religious freedom, we should talk about the actual ability to practice your religion peacefully somewhere. If you're only going to look at paper restrictions and not what's going on in the world, you're going to draw the wrong conclusions.

    The United States has, according to the webpage of the Hartford Seminary's "Institution for Religious Research," 350,000 congregations comprising 217 denominations. No country tops that absolute proof of true religious freedom.

    And as for marriage and religion, the United States beats Brazil hands down in one very important metric. Religious marriage is not legal in Brazil! Everyone there has to have a civil marriage. You can also have a religious ceremony, but it's not legal and no clergyman can legally solemnize a marriage. Compare THAT to the US.

    You have to ignore a lot of stuff to conclude that Brazil has more religious freedom than the good ol' USA.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    April 21, 2015 7:52 a.m.

    So, basically lack of government restrictions on religions equates to "religious freedom". Frankly, government needs to restrict religion more. Were it not for government restrictions on religious practices we would still have virgin sacrifices, inquisitions, witch burnings (she floats, she's a witch).

    Religion should not be involved in government; the combination is toxic.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 21, 2015 7:44 a.m.

    "The country has seen some litigation over religious freedom issues in recent years, especially cases surrounding same-sex marriage."

    Yes, including the Religious Right's attempts to prevent all religions from marrying gay couples regardless of their beliefs on the subject.

    However, when I reviewed the report, what I gathered was reflective less of litigation (which infers at least some measure of freedom) than of the impact of the "war on terror," i.e. increased surveillance/harassment of Muslim populations; Boston Marathon bombing; attempts to prevent the building of mosques; attacks on Muslims or those mistaken for Muslims (Sikhs).

    In fact, answer to two questions within the Social Hostilities Index (SHI) that contributed to the increase in the U.S.'s score on this measure were:

    SHI #6: Did violence result from tensions between religious groups?
    Answer: Yes, with physical violence in a few cases.

    SHI #8: Did religious groups themselves attempt to prevent other religious groups from being able to operate?
    Answer: Yes

    So I think a strong argument can be made that religious institutions/individuals are primarily responsible for the transgressions against religious freedom we've experienced in our country.

  • Sidewinder Breda, 00
    April 21, 2015 7:17 a.m.

    "... the Filipino Constitution requires separation between church and state, according to Georgetown University."
    This all is only theory. Reality looks much more grim. The RC church intervenes in making new laws. So I would label the Philippines not among the top countries for having freedom of religion. The RC church is still too powerfull. Hence the big junk of poverty in this country.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 21, 2015 6:21 a.m.

    "The country has seen some litigation over religious freedom issues in recent years, especially cases surrounding same-sex marriage."

    So, it would appear that "religious freedom" includes Religions right to determine what OTHER people can do.

    Religious freedom proponents seem to be saying "It is contrary to MY religious beliefs, so YOU should not do it."

    Don't religions really want "religious domination"?

  • Sidewinder Breda, 00
    April 21, 2015 6:03 a.m.

    The Philippines is one South Pacific country with a high tolerance for religion. It has a 1.0 ranking on the government index scale. Similar to the countries above, the Filipino Constitution requires separation between church and state, according to Georgetown University.

    Its true that the Philippines has a strict seperation between state and church. So far the theory. In reality, the Philippine RC church will do everything to negate unfavoured new bills coming into law. Recently, a pooll showed that 60% of the population is pro a divorce law. Yes, the Philippines is the only country without a divorce law. But the official statement of the CPCB was against such a law, despite what the population said in the poll.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    April 20, 2015 8:48 p.m.

    I find it interesting that the countries rated as more religiously free than the U.S. are all listed as having a hard separation of church and state - something that many who claim religious freedom is under attack or lacking in the U.S. claim does not and should not exist in our Constitution.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    April 20, 2015 7:23 p.m.

    The U.S. is at a 3.0 because the U.S. Government isn't allowed by the Constitution to foist religious values on its people like some countries do. Just because various freedoms that contradict each other doesn't mean we have worse religious freedoms than other countries. Anybody can worship as they choose in this country. What they can't do is use religious freedom as a pretext to malign and discriminate against other people who believe differently. Whoever came up with list forgot that fundamental concept.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    April 20, 2015 5:17 p.m.

    The correct number for the U.S. is 3.0.