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Religion & Politics 2012

Religion & Politics 2012 includes news, analysis and data on the role of religion in politics, social issues, candidates and political parties relevant to the 2011-12 primary and general election cycle.

 
Arab Spring Adds to Global Restrictions on Religion
Pew Research’s fourth major report on global restrictions on religion finds that the share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religion rose from 37% in 2010 to 40% in 2011. The Middle East and North Africa continued to have the highest levels of restrictions in the year when much of the Arab Spring uprisings occurred, with social hostilities involving religion increasing markedly and government restrictions remaining high.
TEDx: Religious Freedom by the Numbers
Brian J. Grim, Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center, talks about religious freedoms and restrictions at the TEDx Viadella Conciliazione conference.
Concerns About Religious Extremism in Boston Bombings Suspects' Homelands
A new Pew Research Center survey finds high levels of concern about religious extremism among Muslims living in the North Caucasus area of Russia and the neighboring Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. It also finds that most Muslims in the region reject violence against civilians.
Obama Administration Weighs In on Gay Marriage Case
The Obama administration has submitted a “friend-of-the-court” brief on the legal challenge to California’s gay marriage ban, which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26.
The Contraception Mandate and Religious Liberty
On Feb. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new rules for how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate applies to religious nonprofits, including houses of worship, schools and hospitals. Church-state law scholars Ira C. Lupu and Robert Tuttle explain the new rules and the legal arguments that religious groups might make.
Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread
On Nov. 20, a Pakistani court ordered blasphemy charges dropped against a Christian teenager who had been accused of burning pages from the Quran. A new Pew Forum analysis finds that as of 2011 nearly half the countries and territories in the world have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation. 
Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress
The newly elected 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as "none." While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago. 
Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion
Between mid-2009 and mid-2010, religious restrictions rose not only in countries that began the year with high or very high restrictions, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, but also in many countries that began with low or moderate restrictions, such as Switzerland and the United States. The report looks at restrictions due to government actions as well as acts of violence and intimidation by private individuals, organizations and social groups. 
Religion in Prisons
According to a survey of professional prison chaplains, America’s state penitentiaries are a bustle of religious activity. Chaplains say that efforts by inmates to convert other inmates are common and that at least some religious switching occurs. And chaplains overwhelmingly consider religion-based programming an important aspect of rehabilitating prisoners.
Religion in Prisons: Event Webcast
Watch a live webcast from 12:30-1:30 p.m. highlighting the key findings of a new Pew Forum survey of professional prison chaplains. The webcast will feature a presentation by the report's lead researchers as well as additional insights from experts who have worked with the correctional system.
Religion in the News: Islam and Politics Dominate Religion Coverage in 2011
The biggest religion stories of 2011 involved tensions over Islam and questions about faith in presidential politics, especially Mormonism, according to an annual review of religion in the news.
Public Divided Over Birth Control Insurance Mandate
Americans who have heard about the federal rule that would require employers to provide birth control as part of their health care benefits are closely divided over whether religiously affiliated institutions should be given an exemption. Sharp divisions of opinion exist on the issue by religious affiliation, party and ideology.
Lobbying for the Faithful
A new report gives a brief history of organized religious advocacy in Washington, D.C., and examines the major characteristics of religion-related advocacy. A related online directory includes profiles of 216 groups currently or recently active in the nation’s capital.
Lobbying for the Faithful: Event Transcript
 A November 2011 Pew Forum report gave a brief history of organized religious advocacy in Washington, D.C., and examined the major characteristics of religion-related advocacy. The Pew Forum hosted an event to discuss the report’s key findings with journalists, policymakers and representatives from organizations that advocate on religion-related issues in Washington.  
Rising Restrictions on Religion
Restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose in 23 of the world’s 198 countries (12%), decreased in 12 countries (6%) and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries (82%) between mid-2006 and mid-2009, a new Pew Forum report shows. More than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third of the world’s population – live in the 23 countries with increasing government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion.  
The Tea Party and Religion
A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Tea Party supporters tend to have conservative opinions not just about economic matters, but also about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Faith on the Hill
The political overhaul of the U.S. Congress after the 2010 elections appears to have had little effect on the religious composition of the legislative body, which is similar to the religious makeup of the previous Congress and of the nation, according to an analysis by the Pew Forum.
Indonesia’s Place Along the Spectrum of Global Religious Restriction
This analysis draws upon testimony on U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy: the Outlook for 2010, before the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, Feb. 3, 2010.
Few Say Religion Shapes Immigration, Environment Views
Many Americans continue to say their religious beliefs have been highly influential in shaping their views about social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage. But far fewer cite religion as a top influence on their opinions about several other social and political issues, including how the government should deal with immigration, the environment and poverty.
Growing Number of Americans Say Obama is a Muslim
A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.
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