Brazil leads the world in religious freedom, finds Pew study

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

Marshall Islands



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