The Pew Research Center, as part of its report on global religious restrictions, states that restrictions on practice of religion in the U.S. increased in 2009 and 2010. This change was not confined to one religious group; it included Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus, as well as others.
Pew Research uses two methods to determine a country’s score on restrictions to religious practice. The first, the Government Restrictions Index (GRI), addresses court cases, legislation, and other government actions that reduce the ability of individuals to follow their religious beliefs. The U.S. GRI score rose from 1.6 (low) in mid-2009 to 2.7 (moderate) in mid-2010.
The second method, the Social Hostilities Index (SHI), is based on non-government actions by individuals or groups that are motivated by religious prejudice. Religion-related terrorism, as in the attack by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in Texas, is an example of religion-based hostility. The U.S. score on the SHI rose from 2.0 as of mid-2009 (a low-moderate score) to 3.4 as of mid-2010 (a high-moderate score).
This report only underscores the obvious increase in religious prejudice, stereotyping, and hatred that has occurred in the last five years. Not only is restriction on religion increasing, but the rate of increase is increasing.
Given the fact that the United States was founded from a desire for religious freedom, it is ironic that we are moving backwards rather than forward.