It’s important to remember that while our conversations about religion in the U.S. often center around the false notions of Christian persecution, it’s so much worse in other parts of the world. In certain countries, as we know all too well, you can be lashed, fined, jailed, or murdered for daring to criticize religion.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom just released its periodic report on blasphemy laws, and it’s a depressing account of how bad things are worldwide. (The word they used was “sobering.”)
There are 71 countries that have some sort of punishment for blasphemy, however it’s defined. The Commission ranked them on a scale from 0-80, where 80 represents a country violating all sorts of international principles of freedom many times over.
The worst ones on the list? Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, all of which scored in the 60s — and all of which have an official state religion. Several countries on the list, however, may surprise you. Italy was on there with a 56.2. Greece scored in the mid-40s. Germany, Finland, Spain, and Ireland all made the list, though it’s more because blasphemy laws remain on the books, not because their governments would seriously ruin your life if you criticized religion. (Still, it’s the thought that counts.)
If nothing else, consider reading the report just to become more aware of how lucky we are to have actual religious freedom in the U.S. despite various attempts, in practice if not in principle, to merge church and state.
(Portions of this article were posted earlier. Thanks to Brian for the link)