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The worst places in the world to be religious
Rohingya Muslim children at a refugee camp in Burma, where authorities have incited violence against them, according to the State Department.
May 15th, 2014
10:56 AM ET

The worst places in the world to be religious

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world's worst abusers of religious rights. 

As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe.

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are "authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion."

In typically bland bureaucratic language, the State Department calls these "countries of particular concern." But the designation can come with some teeth.

Sudan, for example, where a Christian woman was sentenced to death this week for leaving Islam, is ineligible for some types of foreign aid.

In addition to Sudan, here are the State Department's "countries of particular concern." You might call them "The Worst Places in the World to Be Religious."

Burma: The Burmese government puts a stranglehold on every religion except Theravada Buddhism, says the State Department.

Some government officials even enticed non-Buddhists to convert, and Muslims in the state of Rakhine, particularly Rohingya Muslims, are subject to discrimination and lethal violence, according to the State Department.

China: "The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice," the State Department says.

That includes jailing Uyghur Muslims, one of whom was sentenced to 10 years for "selling illegal religious material," and Catholic clergy who were arrested for not belonging to the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association.

That pales compared with the persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, according to the State Department, who suffered through "an intense official crackdown at monasteries and nunneries, resulting in the loss of life, arbitrary detentions, and torture." 

Eritrea: Just four religious groups are officially allowed to openly practice their faith in this African nation; the rest are subject to jailing or worse.

So if you're not an Eritrean Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical Lutheran, life could be tough for you here. Harsh detentions for religious dissenters are the norm, according to the State Department.

Iran:  This Muslim-majority country's respect for religious rights has declined in recent years, according to the State Department.

"There were increased reports that the government charged religious and ethnic minorities with moharebeh (enmity against God), 'anti-Islamic propaganda,' or vague national security crimes for their religious activities," says the department's report.

The government has imprisoned numerous members of the Baha'i faith and Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who has been physically and psychologically abused, according to the State Department.

Iran begins trial for U.S. pastor 

North Korea: Human rights groups provided numerous reports that members of underground churches were arrested, beaten, tortured or killed because of their religious beliefs, the State Department says.

The authoritarian nation has jailed as many as 200,000 political prisoners, according to the State Department, many on religious grounds. The country discourages any religious activity not sanctioned by officially recognized groups.

Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American reportedly accused of spreading Christianity in North Korea, was sentenced in 2013 to 15 years of hard labor.

Kenneth Bae worried about his health in North Korean camp

Saudi Arabia: The oil-rich monarchy doesn't even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam.

Sunni Islam is the official religion, and the country's constitution is based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

The public practice of any other religion is prohibited, according to the State Department, and Arabian authorities beheaded a man in 2012 for engaging in "sorcery."

Sudan: This country has been on the State Department's naughty list since its inception in 1999.

Sudan penalizes blasphemy and conversion from Islam, sentencing a Christian woman whom judges say converted from Islam to death this week.

The country has also arrested and deported Western Christians suspected of spreading their faith, according to the State Department.

Christian woman in Sudan sentenced to death for her faith

The country's "morality police" require strict obedience to its interpretation of Islamic law, beating and stoning women accused of acting "indecently."

Uzbekistan: Technically, this country's laws respect religious rights.

But in practice, the Central Asian nation maintains strict control of its majority-Muslim population, according to the State Department.

"The government continued to imprison individuals based on charges of extremism; raid religious and social gatherings of unregistered and registered religious communities; confiscate and destroy religious literature, including holy books; and discourage minors from practicing their faith," the department said in its 2012 report. 

People jailed on charges of "religious extremism" have been beaten, tortured and even killed, according to the State Department.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Africa • Baha'i • China • Christianity • Church and state • Discrimination • Foreign policy • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Islamic law • Middle East • Muslim • North Korea • Persecution • Prejudice • Religious violence • Saudi Arabia • Tibet • Tibet • Violence

soundoff (2,628 Responses)
  1. thefinisher1

    Atheists are becoming increasingly hostile towards religious people. Soon their hatred will turn into violence if they allow the hatred to grow. They hate religion so much...they will do anything in their power to get their way. Wow. Atheism isn't good for mankind! It's a disease!

    May 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
    • Alias

      @thefinisher1
      Before you get started responding to yourself and blaming an atheist today, let me remind you:
      When you set up your account you reserved a name all to yourself. When you post under your name it comes up BLUE and it links to a page that you could have created. So, when you post as 'thefinisher1' and we all have a blue link that leads to your page, we know that it is you.
      See how that works? They kind of did that on purpose so honest people could be identified.
      This is obviously news to you, as you have been claiming that someone stole your name. However, we can all see that the link to your page is intact, and you have been responding to your own posts.
      THIS is why I still log on here. I love showing trolls to be liars and idiots.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Awwww! You are still butthurt that your atheism is fake. Sorry kid.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          The fake finisher is right on cue. Thanks for "Liking" me kiddo! ^_^

          May 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          I'm just glad that the religious are becoming increasingly tolerant towards atheists. Within the last 50 years admitting you were an atheist in most countries would get you jailed, fired, tar & feathered or even killed. The problem is that some religious like the OP here see the increase in atheist presence as an attack on their comfortable control structure. They see anyone proclaiming their atheism as hostility towards religion because they see their power declining and they don't like it.

          May 15, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        It's funny, this person shows up exactly when you decide to comment. I'm thinking it's you because you are a butt hurt child.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Good try fake finisher.

          May 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Wow kid, your dedication to me is impressive! You butt must still be hurting from yesterday! Atheism is fake like you, deal with it.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Good try fake finisher. I must have really touched a nerve to make you so dedicated to me and not your atheism!

        May 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Lol, whoever you are, you must have a very weak atheism if you continue to mock yourself. "Your the fake finisher!". Funny, I never "talked" to myself before. You must have no life at all if you named yourself after me. Did I actually offend your dumb atheism and now you are trying to "mock" me? Lol. Good luck whoever you are.

          May 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          One more thing, your sausage comment gives you away as the faker lol!

          May 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Alias

        It is a curious human condition. When we see such things as your posts, we are appalled and disgusted, but we can't seem to look away.
        Besides, I now have more proof you are a looser and a liar than you have for any god. Maybe someone with a working brain will benefit from this.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          You are angrier than usual sad atheist believer. Too bad your atheism can't save you!

          May 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
    • ignatzz

      I have no question that if strongly ideological atheist gain political power, they will use it to persecute the religious. That's fairly obvious just from reading the internet rhetoric. But that has nothing to do with atheism: it has to do with blinding ideological adherence. Once people convince themselves that Group X is the cause of all the problems, the next step is to try and eradicate Group X. But that's the case with ANY ideology, religion, political, anti-theist, whatever.

      May 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
  2. gregoryjwiens

    CNN Faith Blog.... ....where Atheists come to complain about their freedom to not believe.

    May 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Aw, you poor thing. It must be truly painful for you to realize that we are allowed to openly comment on public blogs.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • hotairace

      Perhaps the comments here are more about hypocrisy than actual persecution.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I celebrate my freedom not to believe.

      What's to complain about?

      May 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • gregoryjwiens

        I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV,
        Actually your not one of the complainers. There are many of them, but you are not.
        You are often wrong in your assessments, but at least you are not usually mean about it.

        May 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Atheists like crying persecution. It makes them feel wanted.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You ought to know fake atheist finisher.

        May 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
  3. hotairace

    I was in South Africa recently. On two occasions I felt ostracized because I was asked to bow my head while someone uttered some mumbo jumbo. I sure hope no one noticed I did not. Add SA to the list!

    May 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
    • lewcypher

      Don't confuse obstinace with courtesy

      May 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
      • hotairace

        I did not. I obstinately refused to participate in their non-courteous assumption that all shared their beliefs.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • lakmasa

      So you failed to recognize and respect their religious freedom? Thankfully you are not the leader of a country, or that country would be on this article's ranking. It does not mean you believe in their mumbo jumbo, it's about respect. I'm not American, but I still remove my cap when I go to the ballpark and they sing the US anthem. As a sign of respect to the place I'm visiting.

      May 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
      • fintronics

        Respect needs to be earned,, it's not automatic.

        May 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • hotairace

        I have no problem showing respect for a country. Fuck voodoo beliefs though.

        May 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
    • ignatzz

      That's not persecution. Do you know what persecution is?

      Feel uncomfortable because you don't conform to someone else's culture is not being persecuted.

      May 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Atheists are persecuted in some countries – one was recently released from jail in Indonesia; his "crime" was posting atheist belief on Facebook. Atheists are discriminated against in this country – many laws exist prohibiting atheists from political office.

        May 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
  4. lewcypher

    Why should religion be tolerated anyway?

    May 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
    • Alias

      As a moral society we need to accommodate those with sanity issues and help them as much as we can.
      What would you think if I asked, "Why should schizophrenia be tolerated?"?

      May 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • ignatzz

      There you go – a demonstration that if ideological atheist gain power, persecution will follow,

      May 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  5. dc3gal

    I'm surprised the US isn't on that list. Oh sure the law says there is freedom of religion but in practice that is not the case. So much antisemitism alone it's pathetic. How many church bombings and fires happening of other faiths? One is too many! So much misunderstandings of certain religions as well cause harm. People are too willing to believe gossip and don't have the backbone to figure it out for themselves. People do die in the US over religion, people just don't want to face it and do anything about it.

    May 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
    • lewcypher

      Since the majority and perpetrators claim to be christian then yes, there is freedom of religion if you are christian.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
    • movethen

      Really the US? Go online and post what you did in any of those countries, and see what happens. You Sir, are a moron.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • cc423

      Please provide proof that religious people in the US are currently being killed and churches are being bombed.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Sikh_temple_shooting

        May 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        JOPLIN, Mo. — A mosque in southwest Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, and investigators spent the day combing through the wreckage searching for evidence of arson.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/joplin-mosque-fire_n_1748190.html

        May 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Plenty more where they come from.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
  6. pmar2014

    Sorry, but with Muslim, Christian and other religious fanatics in the world, the less religion, the better. Burma, China, keep up the good work!

    May 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Richard

    Those children don't deserve to be persecuted for their faith, it's appalling to see Myanmar taking to violence in the name of Buddhism. Don't you guys have better things to focus on, like, education, poverty eradication and development of your economy????

    May 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Violence based on on religious (or non-religious) belief is appalling, no matter the situation. Humanity has wasted far too long on this irrational need to force faith upon the unwilling.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Vic

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    God Bless The USA

    May 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And God bless Joe McCarthy's successful conflation of capitalism with Christianity.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Why?

      May 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • hotairace

      "♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰" is an opinion, not supported by any actual evidence, therefore most likely 100% pure bullsh!t.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • snuffleupagus

      ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lard ♰♰♰

      Fixed, Vic. His Lardship has been established.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Hey Vic, did you do your homework about Canada yet?

      May 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Still have never heard of Jesus. No idea who he is."

      – your human brother Bob, who was born in the Amazon rain forest jungle

      May 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  9. jonusb

    Funny how you can easily sense a pattern in many of these Islamic countries sharing a common method of religious persecution; and yet who gets the continuous watchful eye of the ultra-liberal politicians like John Kerry and Jimmy Carter? ISRAEL OF COURSE!!!! Israeli Arabs are free to worship without any threat of persecution in Mosques throughout the region. Christians flock to the Holy Land in mass numbers during Easter and Christmas and are welcomed with open arms.

    But tiny Israel has built houses in disputed lands, and both Kerry and Carter have made it their lifelong pledge to put an end to this inhumanity.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • In Santa We Trust

      Land that UN Resolutions state belong to Palestinians.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
      • hotairace

        A UN Resolution is not actually a UN Resolution unless the USA agrees with it.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • haskeli

        Irrelevant response. The comment was about Israeli Arabs who live inside the 1947 lines of Israel recognized by the UN. You know, the Arabs who are allowed to do things like vote and practice their religion (Islam or Christianity) unlike their brothers and sisters in Syria.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          "But tiny Israel has built houses in disputed lands, and both Kerry and Carter have made it their lifelong pledge to put an end to this inhumanity."

          How is my response irrelevant?

          May 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • lewcypher

      If U.S. christians had more balls there'd be lynchings of gays and atheists every Tuesday

      May 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
  10. Vic

    Someone mentioned the other day, on a previous Blog entry, that Canada has Muslim Sharia Law in place. That's utterly disturbing and bone chilling. Sharia Law institutes the death penalty for conversion or renouncing Islam as well as adultery, let alone persecution, amongst many other things.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • hotairace

      It's disturbing that you would believe that without doing any research. But then, you do believe the crap in The Babble despite there being no actual evidence for any of the divine claims found in that steaming pile of dung.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:53 am |
    • hotairace

      http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/06/08/sharia-set-off-alarms-in-canada-check-the-facts/

      May 15, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • tallulah131

      Do a little homework, Vic. Canada is allowing tribunals within religious communities to deal with minor things. The ultimate authority remains Canadian law. There are also christian and jewish tribunals. Are you scared of those, too?

      May 15, 2014 at 11:58 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      The irony...

      May 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Vic
      In my province (Ontario), a group called The Canadian Islamic Congress wanted Sharia tribunals where Muslims could voluntarily submit civil disputes. Other Muslim groups were opposed to the idea.
      In the end, the provincial government not only rejected the proposal, they got rid of the Jewish and Christian tribunals that were already in place doing exactly the same thing as the Muslims wanted to do.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • hotairace

      Once again, Vic demonstrates he is not the brightest Babble Humper but he is consistent. What did President Clinton say recently about consistency?

      May 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
    • lewcypher

      Vic, stop regurgitating anonymously written urban legend emails, it makes you look stupid and ignorant.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    just last week a Black Mass was suppressed at Harvard by Christian power brokers.

    Areas where US legislation is based wholly or partially on the Bible.

    1. the laws still on the books in several states preventing an atheist from holding office.
    2. Laws that try and limit the teaching of evolution in school.
    3. Laws that limit access to contraceptives.
    4. Laws that limit a woman's right to choose.
    5. Laws that limit gay rights.
    6. Laws that limit immunization against HPV.

    USA is well and truly on this list.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • tallulah131

      Nah. We really don't belong on that list. Sure, there's some unfortunate laws on the books, but they could be struck down if challenged in court. (though maybe not by this particular incarnation of the Supreme Court) By the same token, those American christians who whine about persecution should read this list and be ashamed of themselves for even opening their mouths.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:48 am |
  12. canniwander

    Why isn't the US on this list? The Christians of this country actively suppress the practice of other religions. Mosques can't be built without huge temper tantrums from the Christians, those that follow the Wiccan way are mocked and harassed relentlessly. The list could go on. Some in this country are trying to turn us into exactly what they hate; a theocracy. The USA is an emerging threat to the freedom of religion.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am |
    • tallulah131

      When the government turns a blind eye to, or actively supports violence or criminal prosecution against religious minorities, then you can complain. But honestly, we have it pretty good in the U.S.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
  13. lngtrmthnkr

    To beat and kill a pregnant woman because she believes in Christianity is not only barbaric, it is criminal and the Muslim laws that condone this action are also criminal. There for the Muslim religion is criminal and in no way a reflection of God who is of Love and forgivness. There is no love or forgivness in this belief system, therefor it is not of God and is a fraud.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • hotairace

      But 1.6 billion believers, mostly living in underdeveloped countries, can't be wrong, can they?

      May 15, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      There is no god in any belief system, therefore you are all frauds.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • observer

      “Whoever does any work on a holy day - put to death”
      “anyone who blasphemes - stone him.”
      “worship other gods - stone the guilty ones to death”
      “stubborn and rebellious son - stone him to death.”
      “man is found lying with a married woman - both of them shall die”
      “virgin engaged to another man and he lies with her - stone them to death”
      “Whoever strikes his father or his mother - put to death”
      "Anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother - put to death.”
      “anyone who curses his father or his mother - put to death”
      “man who commits adultery with another man's wife - they shall be put to death.”
      "man or woman who is a medium or a fortune-teller - stone them to death"

      From the Quran? Nope. From the Bible

      May 15, 2014 at 11:42 am |
      • burkemtn

        I'm an anti-theist, but in fairness, when was the last time Jews or Christians practiced any of these Barbaric laws described in the Old Testament (e.g. as described in Exodus, Deutoronomy, Leviticus)? Now compare with laws currently on the books in many Muslim countries.

        May 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
        • observer

          burkemtn,

          Didn't say they were. It's mostly radical Muslims today that are following commands like God issued originally.

          Is it the SAME perfect and "unchanging" God in both testaments?

          May 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Funny. Not a week ago a caravan of muslim refugees in Central African Republic was attacked by a christian militia, and a mother who had just nursed her child was shot in the head and killed. Therefore christianity is barbaric and immoral and in no way a reflection of god.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
      • hotairace

        The hypocrisy of all religions is too great and too frequent to follow. Something about logs and splinters they don't get. . .

        May 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
        • tallulah131

          It really is stupid.

          May 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
    • bucket588

      Kind of like when a Christian militant shot a mother nursing here baby a few days ago just because she is Muslim. How barbaric. Christians... the religion of double standards.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries – Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands – all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      great post. Unfortunately religious cognitive dissonance means that anyone starting to read it instantly has their internal voice saying "la, la, la, la ... I can't hear youuuu!" Or "that's a lie, those aren't real facts" ... it's almost a lost cause.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:28 am |
  15. neverbeenhappieratheist

    Shouldn't the headline read "The worst places to be Christian"? Because you can be "religious" and be just fine in Iran and other Muslim nations, you just have to be the "right" religion. I'm sure the Muslims would rank the US as a place they feel their religion is restricted. Seems a strange double standard.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."
      – Robert Heinlein

      May 15, 2014 at 11:36 am |
  16. hotairace

    I wonder why the USA was not listed given that atheists are barred from political office in some jurisdictions?

    May 15, 2014 at 11:11 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      indeed!

      May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am |
  17. hotairace

    And it seems, from the above list, that muzzies are not very tolerant. And that there are more intolerant religious nations than intolerant non-religious nations.

    May 15, 2014 at 11:08 am |
  18. hotairace

    It obviously costs money to produce this report. Why is the US government wasting money on tracking where it is most difficult to practice childish beliefs?

    May 15, 2014 at 11:03 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Given that freedom of religion is our first enumerated right, why wouldn't the United States monitor religious freedom across the world if it affirms that we need to keep our commitment to freedom of religion.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:27 am |
      • hotairace

        Because it is an American right, not everyone's right. What business is it of the US's to monitor and criticize other countries' belief tolerance? Why does the USA insist on projecting it's beliefs about mythical beliefs on the world?

        May 15, 2014 at 11:32 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Monitoring is very different from projecting the beliefs of the US.

        The positive outcome in this is that the US government can use this data to reinforce application of religious first amendment rights at home.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:37 am |
      • hotairace

        By rating countries on religious tolerance, the USA is projecting its beliefs about beliefs and tolerance for them on other countries. Why shouldn't a sovereign country be able to decide it will recognize 0, 1 or more religions?

        Re: using international data to reinforce the application of us law, as has been shown here, the us does not need to look past its own borders for examples, good or bad.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:44 am |
  19. Theo Phileo

    So why don't all the atheists in the world move there and have the paradise they've always dreamed of?

    May 15, 2014 at 11:01 am |
    • observer

      Theo Phileo,

      Who would want to move to countries that practice many of the commands like God gave when he originally set up all the rules?

      May 15, 2014 at 11:06 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Eritrea – Atheism is NOT tolerated. To leave the country, citizens must get an exit Visa from the Office of Religious Affairs which arrests applicants on the spot for being non-religious
      Iran – Islam only
      North Korea – Cult of personality – religious worship of their leader
      Saudi Arabia – islam only
      Sudan – Islam only. They flog people for blashphemy
      Uzbekistan – Islam only

      So why would an atheist move to any of these places?
      Many countries discriminate against non-believers.

      In Djibouti, citizens must register their religion to be married. "Atheist" is not recognized, ergo atheists cannot be legally married.

      Equatorial Guinea gives official preferential treatment to Catholics, such as exemptions from airport entry taxes.

      In Ethiopia, it is against the law to defame religion.

      Zambia has mandatory Christian education in their public shcools for all students through grade 7.

      In Indonesia, persons who do not identify with one of the six official religions (Islam, Cathoilc, Protestant, Confucian, Buddhism, Hindu), including people with no religion, experience official discrimination in the context of civil registration of marriages and births and other situation involving family law.

      Section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code,called ‘Vilification of Religious Teachings’, criminalizes “Anyone who publicly disparages a person or thing that is the object of worship of a domestic church or religious society, or a doctrine".

      In Bavaria, Catholic bishops have the right to veto thenomination of a professor of theology, philosophy, pedagogy and sociology/political science at state universities if the candidate does not entertain the standpoint of the Catholic Church.

      Article 198 of the Greek Penal Code states that “1. One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years; 2. Anyone, except as described in par.1, who displays publicly with blasphemy a lack of respect for things divine, is punished with up to 3 months in prison. ” Article 199 states that “one who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerable in Greece shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years.”

      In Italy, blasphemy is considered as an "administrative offense" and punished with a fine. Administrative law requires that all classrooms in state schools display crucifixes.

      The Church of England (C of E) is granted privileged access to the British Parliament. The 26 most senior C of E Bishops are automatically granted membership in the House of Lords – the upper chamber of Parliament – where they have the right to speak and vote on all legislation. They are unaccountable to the public.

      When applying for a Pakistani passport, applicants must state their religion. “No Religion” is not accepted as an answer.

      At least seven states–Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas–have in place const.itutional provisions that bar atheists from holding public office. One state (Arkansas) even has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:15 am |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        Well said. Christians in America don't want to accept those facts because they live in their own little invented world narrative, but it is very hard to escape the facts when you take an honest look at them.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:21 am |
      • otoh2

        Doc,

        Thanks for taking the time to put that info together.

        (Shall we suggest to Theo that he should move to move to Vatican City?)

        May 15, 2014 at 11:26 am |
      • originalwill

        http://www.surprisinger.com/2009/02/q-is-it-really-illegal-for-atheists-to.html

        your last paragraph isn't true in any practical sense.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:44 am |
      • In Santa We Trust

        An example from Indonesia – atheist jailed for his beliefs
        https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/man-jailed-indonesia-atheist-facebook-posts-article-1.1096779

        May 15, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @OriginalWill
        Whether SCOTUS decisions render these state consti/tutional provisions moot or not isn't the point – that they continue to exist as written policy in those states is indicative of the prevailing att/itudes of discrimination in those places.

        It is akin to anti-miscegenation laws in the Southern US.
        Even though the SCOTS struck them down at the national level in the 1960s, it took South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until 2000 to officially remove language prohibiting inter-racial marriage. In the respective referendums, almost half of the voters wanted to keep those laws on the books as a reflection of their feelings, even though they couldn't technically win a case against an interracial couple.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:53 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        "your last paragraph isn't true in any practical sense"
        ---------------
        Laws barring atheistic legislators are clearly unconsti.tutional under the "no religious test" clause. This is cut and dried.

        However your assertion that it isn't true in "any practical sense" is too dismissive.

        How many openly atheist people get elected in Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas?

        You essentially have to challenge the law, take it to the Supreme Court, where you will win, but then come back and face a hostile electorate. There is precedent but it is not easy. Look up Cecil Bothwell (Ashville, NC).

        May 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Why on earth would a country with state mandated religion be a "paradise" for atheists?

      What a stupid thing to say.

      May 15, 2014 at 11:23 am |
      • hotairace

        That logic is entirely consistent with continued belief in childish mythologies.

        May 15, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • tallulah131

      I guess American atheists would rather live in the secular nation created by our founding fathers - you know, the one that guarantees equal protection to all beliefs, even no belief at all.

      May 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
      • otoh2

        tallulah,

        Sometimes we need to specify "founding fathers" as being the 1776 & Const.itution era folks. All too often Christians use this phrase to mean the "founding" Pilgrims/Puritans who were seeking religious freedom for ***themselves*** only. Read how they treated other sects/denominations who came to this country.

        May 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
        • tallulah131

          The U.S. was nothing more than a colony of England until the real founding fathers stepped up. It's sad that some believers are too wrapped up in their faith to understand the difference.

          May 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
  20. gulliblenomore

    The worst countries to be religious? ANY country!

    May 15, 2014 at 10:58 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.