This is the fifth in a series of reports by the Pew Research Center analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices. As part of the original study, published in 2009, Pew Research developed two indexes -- a Government Restrictions Index and a Social Hostilities Index -- that were used to gauge government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion in nearly 200 countries and territories.
The initial report established a baseline for each country and five major geographic regions. Three follow-up reports looked at changes in the level of restrictions and hostilities in these countries and regions.
This new report looks at the extent and direction of change in government restrictions on religion and religious hostilities during calendar year 2012. Where appropriate, it also compares the situation in 2012 with the situation in the baseline year of the study (mid-2006 to mid-2007). This is the second time Pew Research has analyzed restrictions on religion in a calendar year. Previous reports analyzed 12-month periods from July 1-June 30 (e.g., July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010). The shift to calendar years was made, in part, because most of the primary sources used in this study now are based on calendar years.