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Charlottesville Violence Highlights High Religious Hostilities in U.S. and World

14 Aug, 2017

The deadly anti-Semitic and racist demonstrations in the Virginia city of Charlottesville over the weekend are further evidence of high social hostilities involving religion in the United States.

Religious hostilities in the U.S. are high, according to the Pew Research Center’s past two annual reports (see line chart). The events in Charlottesville follow on from last weekend’s bombing of a Minnesota mosque.

Research show that religion-related hostilities negatively impact the economy. One sign of this is that the chief executive of Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, resigned on Monday from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy,” said Merck & Co., Inc., CEO Kenneth Frazier.

The religious hostilities in the U.S. are part of a long-term global trend of increasing religious restrictions and hostilities. Indeed, a new analysis of the same Pew data show that the number of people living in countries with high religious restrictions and hostilities has reached nearly six billion people, or 78.5% of the world’s total population in 2017. This represents an increase of 1.1 billion since the first year of the study (see bar chart).* 

To see all the latest data, check out the Powerpoint below.


* Pew data are for 2007 – 2015. Population figures are from 2009 and 2017, the year the reports were released.