NZ’s restrictions on religion among lowest in the world


In light of the mosque shooting in Christchurch the USA based Pew Research Centre has published a report about religion and religious tolerance in New Zealand.

The report says New Zealand has some of the lowest levels of government restrictions on religion in the world.

In 2016 it scored 0.48 out of 10 on Pew Research Center’s Government Restrictions Index (GRI).

It notes New Zealand’s GRI score has been low since they first began measuring it in 2007.

But it did increase slightly that year.

“This recent increase is due in part to derogatory statements made by Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First Party, when he said in June 2016 that certain countries “treat their women like cattle,” and suggested that all immigrants should be screened for unacceptable attitudes before being permitted to enter the country.”

Some media reports said he specifically referred to Muslim immigrants, which Peters denied.

The report highlights three other findings about attitudes to religion in New Zealand:

  1. Almost all New Zealanders said in a 2011-2012 survey that they would accept a neighbour of a different religion. Among the 841 New Zealanders interviewed, only 12 said they would not like to have a neighbour of a different religion (less than 2% of the sample).
  2. Muslims comprise roughly 1% of New Zealand’s general population. However, Muslims are expected to make up about 3% of New Zealand’s population by 2050.
  3. New Zealand had “low” levels of social hostilities involving religion in 2016. It recorded a Social Hostilities Index score of 0.9 out of 10. There have been incidents of religiously motivated violence and hostilities in the past, although these cases have been relatively rare.

The Pew Research Centre is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.