Watch video 2018
This report found evidence of significant religious freedom violations in 38 nations.
The rise in religious fundamentalism threatens to fracture societies along religious lines.
A curtain of indifference has fallen behind which vulnerable faith communities suffer, their plight ignored by a religiously illiterate West.
“Here, in the Central African Republic, religious freedom is not a concept; it is a question of survival.” Card. Dieudonné Nzapalainga
As Pope Francis stated: “Reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity.” (Pope Francis, June 2014) "In many countries, religious freedom is not a concept; it is a question of survival." (Cardinal Dieudonne) "For simply belonging to the wrong religion, countless numbers of people have been killed; many others have disappeared and still more have been imprisoned indefinitely." (John Pontifex) Aid to the Church in Need’s global Religious Freedom in the World Report seeks to highlight areas of the world where religious persecution limits the rights of individuals to practice their faith; and indicates the improvement or decline of religious freedom in each country.
"The search for inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation is unquestionably the last defence against the ultimate implosion of our country."
By Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga.keyboard_arrow_right
“For simply belonging to the wrong religion, countless numbers of people have been killed; many others have disappeared and still more have been imprisoned indefinitely.”
By John Pontifex, Editor-in-Chiefkeyboard_arrow_right
Countries with significant violations of religious freedommenu search
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Burkina Faso
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- East Timor (Timor Leste)
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Guinea Conakry
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- North Korea
- Palestine Territories
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of Congo
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sao Tome & Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
Summary of Findings
A. In the period under review, the situation for minority faith groups deteriorated in 18 of the 38 countries – almost half – found to have significant religious freedom violations. Especially serious decline was noted in China and India. In many of the others – including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Eritrea – the situation was already so bad, it could scarcely get any worse.
B. Worsening intolerance towards religious minorities meant that for the first time two countries – Russia and Kyrgyzstan – were placed in the ‘Discrimination’ category.
C. Compared to two years ago, more countries with significant religious freedom violations showed signs of deteriorating conditions for faith minorities – 18 countries, up four on the figure for 2016.
D. An increase in religious freedom violations from state actors – authoritarian regimes –resulted in more countries showing a decline in religious liberty compared with 2016.
E. Conversely, a sharp decline in Al Shabaab militant violence meant that Tanzania and Kenya – ranked as ‘Persecution’ countries in 2016 – were re-categorised ‘Unclassified’ in 2018. While fewer Islamist religious freedom violations were noted in some countries, the position manifestly worsened in many others.
Aggressive nationalism, hostile to religious minorities, has worsened to the degree that the phenomenon can be called ultra-nationalism. Violent and systematic intimidation of religious minority groups has led to them being branded as disloyal aliens and threatening to the state.
There is increasing evidence of a curtain of indifference behind which vulnerable faith communities suffer, their plight ignored by a religiously illiterate West.
In the eyes of Western governments and the media, religious freedom is slipping down the human rights priority rankings, being eclipsed by issues of gender, sexuality and race.
There has been a rapid and unexpected resettlement of some minority faith groups in parts of the Middle East formerly occupied by Daesh (ISIS) and other hyper-extremist groups.
Most Western governments have failed to provide urgently needed assistance to minority faith groups, especially displaced communities wishing to return home.
The success of military campaigns against Daesh and other hyper-extremists has concealed the spread of militant Islamist movements in regions of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam has fuelled extremist groups including Daesh.
Fresh evidence shows the extent of sexual abuse of women by extremist groups and individuals in Africa, the Middle East and parts of the Indian subcontinent.
There has been an upsurge in extremist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the West, motivated in part by religious hatred. The attacks suggest that the threat of militant extremism is now becoming universal, imminent and ever-present. As such, this threat can be called neighbourhood terrorism.
Islamophobia in the West has increased, in part as a result of the ongoing migrant crisis.
There is evidence of worsening anti-Semitism leading to a rise in the number of Jewish migrants to Israel.
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Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 6000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.