China and Russia Top Governments Responsible for Damaging, Vandalizing Churches, Mosques, Says New Study [Excerpts]
Pew Research Center has found that the three countries, whose populations are 1.4 billion, 146 million, and 8 million, respectively, were among the leaders in terms of the number of incidents of religious property damage. Pew collected data on the "demolition of houses of worship, and the seizure of religious groups' property and government raids of houses of worship that result in property damage."
China, which has no state religion, currently has a minority Christian population. According to the CIA World Factbook, 52.2 percent of the population is religiously unaffiliated, 18.2 percent is Buddhist, and only 5.1 percent are Christians.
The same source also notes that according to 2006 data, among Russia's population, 15-20 percent is Russian Orthodox, 10-15 percent is Muslim, and 2 percent is other Christian. However, it notes that these are "estimates of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule."
The CIA Factbook lists Tajikistan's religious demographics as Sunni Muslim 85 percent, Shia Muslim 5 percent, and other 10 percent, in data from 2003.
Countries in the next tier (with 10-99 incidents of property damage against churches, mosques, and temples) included Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Pakistan, Angola, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
"Though such actions were most common in the Middle East-North Africa region (in seven of 20 countries in that region), property was damaged by governments in every region of the world. Destruction of religious property was least prevalent in the Americas, where only two countries, Venezuela and Cuba, of 35, saw destruction of religious property," the report stated.