Mar 3, 2015 7:00 am

Religious restrictions among the world’s most populous countries

Changes in Restrictions on ReligionLevels of religious restrictions and hostilities among the world’s 25 most populous countries — where more than 5 billion people live — vary tremendously, from some of the lowest in the world (South Africa) to among the very highest (Indonesia).

Burma (Myanmar), Egypt, Pakistan and Russia also had some of the highest levels of religious restrictions, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center, using 2013 data (the most recent year analyzed). In these countries, both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.

In Burma, for example, Buddhist residents in Kyawpadaung Township tried to prevent Muslims from living in the area, displaying signs that said the town had been “purified” of Muslims. And in Pakistan, the government continued to enforce laws designed to marginalize the minority Ahmadiyya community, including laws that make it difficult for members of the community to vote or obtain passports and other legal documents if they do not renounce their faith. Ahmadis see themselves as a Muslim sect, but many Pakistanis do not view them as Muslims. Read More

Topics: Restrictions on Religion

Mar 2, 2015 12:42 pm

Ahead of redistricting, Democrats seek to reverse statehouse declines

Partisan Composition of State Legislatures

Late last month, a Democratic National Committee “victory task force” released its preliminary report on what the party needs to do to avoid a repeat of the pasting it received in November’s midterms. One of its main recommendations: The party needs to take control of more state legislatures in time for the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.

Though they tend not to get much attention from Beltway insiders, state legislatures are key players in redrawing congressional-district boundaries. In most states, it’s the state legislature that takes the lead role in drawing new district maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Commissions do this job in 13 states and have advisory or backup roles in seven others, although the Supreme Court is currently weighing the legality of the commissions’ task.) Given the inherently political nature of redistricting, which party controls the legislature can be crucial to a state’s final maps and thus, control of Congress.

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Topics: State and Local Government, U.S. Political Parties

Feb 27, 2015 4:04 pm

63% of Republican Millennials favor marijuana legalization

Support for legalizing marijuana has rapidly outpaced opposition, with a slim majority (52%) favoring its legal use as of October 2014. That trend is driven largely by the Millennial generation, who support marijuana at much higher rates than their elders.

Support for Marijuana Largely a Generational StoryBut when looking more closely at the opinions of young and old, the age gap is starkest among Republicans and those who lean Republican – a strikingly similar trend to what we’ve seen within the party when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Six-in-ten (63%) GOP Millennials say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 35% say it should be illegal, according to our February 2014 survey. That level of support is higher than among Republican Generation Xers (47%) and Baby Boomers (38%), and much higher than among GOP members of the Silent generation (17%). (When we asked the question again in October, overall opinion was only slightly changed.) Read More

Topics: Drugs, Generations and Age, Millennials, Political Party Affiliation

Feb 27, 2015 1:45 pm

Hispanics more likely than whites to say global warming is caused by humans

Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to say the Earth is warming because of human activities and that the U.S. should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds.

Hispanics More Likely than Whites to Say Humans Have Warmed the PlanetOur analysis finds that Hispanics, who make up an increasing share of the U.S. voting population in presidential elections, stand out when it comes to their views of the environment. Recent surveys from other organizations have had similar results. Democrats, the party most Hispanics identify with, have been pushing for more government action on issues such as climate change.

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Topics: Energy and Environment, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Feb 27, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about religious hostilities in Europe

Religious Hostilities in Europe

While Europe is not the region with the highest level of religious hostilities – that remains the Middle East-North Africa region – harassment and attacks against religious minorities continue in many European countries. Indeed, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, hostilities against Jews in particular have been spreading. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 10:55 am

5 key findings about global restrictions on religion

Pew Research Center has been tracking data on religious restrictions in nearly 200 countries and territories since 2007, producing a series of reports that analyze religion-related social hostilities and government restrictions on religion.

Here are key findings from the latest report, which updates the data through 2013:

1After a consistent rise in recent years, social hostilities – those perpetrated by individuals or groups in society – declined somewhat between 2012 and 2013. A little more than a quarter of the world’s countries (27%) experienced high or very high levels of religion-related hostilities by individuals or social groups in 2013, down from 33% in 2012. Meanwhile, restrictions on religion imposed by governments were relatively stable between 2012 (when 29% of countries had high or very high restrictions) and 2013 (27%). (For more on the index used to determine these measures, see the full report.) Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 10:55 am

Q/A: How Pew Research measures global restrictions on religion

Recently, the Pew Research Center released its sixth annual report examining global restrictions on religion. The report is a huge undertaking, detailing both government restrictions on religion and social hostilities toward religious groups in nearly 200 countries and territories.

Fact Tank sat down with Peter Henne, the study’s lead researcher, to learn more about the complex process of measuring religious restrictions.

Why do you measure global restrictions on religion rather than “religious freedom”?

We look for evidence of restrictions on religious belief and practice because they can be easier to measure in a transparent and objective manner. For example, we can find information on government policies that restrict certain types of religious practice – like conversion – but it is less likely that there will be information indicating whether individuals in a particular country feel free to convert from one religion to another. Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Research Methodology, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 9:19 am

As 2016 election looms, MSNBC shakes up its programming strategy

MSNBC has long relied on a roster of opinion-heavy shows with a liberal bent to carve out its place in the cable news world. But having struggled to keep pace with its competitors, the network has made moves suggesting that it is turning more to straight news in an effort to rebound.

Last week, MSNBC canceled two of its daytime opinion shows: “Ronan Farrow Daily” and “The Reid Report.” The move follows network president Phil Griffin’s end-of-2014 memo, which said that in 2015 “investing in original reporting” would be the channel’s focus.

On MSNBC, Opinion Dominates ReportingThis turn to reporting – and away from opinion – would be a significant change for the network. A 2012 Pew Research Center analysis found that MSNBC’s programming was 85% commentary/opinion and 15% factual reporting. By contrast, both CNN and Fox News Channel had a relatively even balance: 46% opinion vs. 54% reporting for CNN, and 55% opinion vs. 45% reporting for Fox News. Read More

Topics: Media Economics, Television

Feb 26, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about consistent conservatives

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference begins this week, a three-day event hosted by the American Conservative Union where activists, officeholders, campaign consultants and others will hear from a dozen or so potential Republican presidential candidates – among them Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz.

Last year’s series of Pew Research Center reports on political polarization used a 10-item scale of ideological consistency to place Americans into five categories: consistently conservative or liberal, mostly conservative or liberal, and mixed. By that metric, 9% of the public overall is consistently conservative, including 20% of Republicans and Republican leaners; most of the remaining Republicans and leaners were “mostly conservative” (33%) or had a mixture of liberal and conservative views (37%).

Here are five facts drawn from our package of reports about consistent conservatives: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization

Feb 25, 2015 1:00 pm

Nearly all states allow religious exemptions for vaccinations

46 States Allow Religious Exemptions for Childhood Vaccines

Forty-seven states allow children to be exempt from vaccinations because of religious concerns, including 18 states that also allow exemptions for “personal reasons,” according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. One state, Minnesota, allows parents to not vaccinate their children based on a broader “personal” exemption that does not explicitly mention religion.

The recent measles outbreak linked to California’s Disneyland  has reignited the debate over whether children should be required to receive vaccinations, regardless of parental objections. More than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (83%) say that vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella are safe for healthy children, while 9% say they are not safe, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.

While all states require children to receive certain vaccinations before they can enter public school, most states offer nonmedical exemptions to those requirements. (Every state allows exemptions for children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.)

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Topics: Health Care, Religion and Government, State and Local Government