Religious Freedom and the Unintended Consequences of State Religion
We use a cross-section of 59 countries to examine the impact of state religion and of constitutional protection of religion on the degree of religiosity within a country. Our measure of religiosity is the percentage of the population who attend religious services at least once a week. We find that both establishment of a state religion and constitutional protection of religion have significant (and opposing) effects. The existence of a state religion reduces attendance by 14.6–16.7% of the total population, whereas each decade of constitutional protection increases attendance by approximately 1.2% of the population. We also find that other measures of religious regulation have significant negative effects on attendance. Ironically, the motive behind establishment of a particular state religion usually is to strengthen that religion, but the effects are ultimately to undermine the vitality of the established religion.
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Volume (Year): 71 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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