Institutional Relations Rather Than Clashes of Civilizations: When and How Is Religion Compatible with Democracy?

August 1, 2016

Published in International Political Sociology, this study by Jocelyne Cesari and Jonathan Fox develops and examines the concept of hegemonic religion and its relationship with democracy. A religion is hegemonic not only when the state grants that religion exclusive material and political privileges and benefits, but also when the religion is a core element of national identity and citizenship. The authors empirically examine the link between hegemonic religion and democracy using the Religion and State round 2 (RAS2), Polity, and CIRI datasets, focusing on religious education policy, financing of religion, and religiously based laws as measures of the extent of religious hegemony in a state. Cesari and Fox find that the presence of these religiously hegemonic traits, especially in combination, is strongly associated with a lack of democracy. However, it is possible for democracies to have some hegemonic features but not all of them.

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