Among the 26 most populous countries, Brazil has the highest levels of religious freedom, higher, in fact, than the United States, where government restrictions on religious freedom have been rising.
Brazil - the world's fifth most populous nation - not only out performs other countries of is size, the Brazilian government has the best record on religious freedom worldwide, placing virtually no measurable restrictions on religious freedom, scoring 0.2 out of a maximum of 10.0 on the Government Restrictions on Religion index, recently published by the Pew Research Center.
Only five countries score at that level:
Federated States of Micronesia
Among the 26 most populous nations, seven have governments that are very highly restrictive of religious freedom (see chart): China (scoring 9.1 out of 10.0), Indonesia (8.5), Iran (8.3), Egypt (8.2), Burma/Myanmar (7.7), Russia (7.4), Turkey (7.4), according to the Pew index. Six are highly restrictive: Pakistan (6.4), Vietnam (6.1), Bangladesh (5.2), India (5.0), Ethiopia (4.6), and Germany (4.5). Five are moderately restrictive: Thailand (4.4), France (4.2), Nigeria (4.1), Mexico (3.4), and the United States (3.0). And eight have low government restrictions on religious freedom: South Korea (2.0), Italy (2.0), United Kingdom (1.7), D.R. Congo (1.1), Japan (1.1), Philippines (1.0), South Africa (0.7), Brazil (0.2).
Brazil is also one of only six countries among the 26 most populous where government restrictions on religion have decline since the Pew study began making these estimates. The others are the Philippines, the D.R. Congo, Mexico, Vietnam, and Burma (Myanmar).
Countries with the greatest increases in government restrictions on religion between 2007 and 2013 are:
Indonesia 2.3-point increase
Ethiopia 2.0-point increase
Thailand 1.8-point increase
Russia 1.6-point increase
Germany 1.4-point increase
United States 1.4-point increase
China 1.3 -point increase
Bangladesh 1.2-point increase
Egypt 1.0-point increase