Indonesia's Place Along the Spectrum of Global Religious Restriction

  • March 18, 2010

This analysis draws upon testimony on U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy: the Outlook for 2010, before the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, February 3, 2010. Read the full transcript including additional global findings at

Restrictions on religious practice are far from uncommon in today's world. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has found that 64 nations, about one in three among the countries and territories covered by its Global Restrictions on Religion study, have high restrictions on religion either because of government restrictions, social hostilities or both. And because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, that means about 70% of the world's population lives in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.

Indonesia, where President Barack Obama now plans to visit in June and where he spent part of his childhood, is among those countries of the globe where such restrictions and hostilities are highest. In a chart Pew Forum plotted the 25 most populous countries by their scores on both measures, with increases in social hostilities going up the chart and increases in government restrictions going to the right. If a country has both high government restrictions and high social hostilities, it will be located more toward the top right corner of the chart, as is Indonesia along with Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt and Iran.

View the chart and read the full commentary Indonesia's Place Along the Spectrum of Global Religious Restriction on the Pew Research Center's Web site.