How common is religious freedom worldwide?


  • Jonathan Fox


religious freedom, religious minorities, persecution, repression


This study discusses and measures six alternative definitions and conceptions of religious freedom: free exercise, religious persecution/repression, religious tolerance, absolute separation, neutrality and laicism. Each conception is operationalized using both strict and lenient interpretations based on data from the Religion and State round 3 (RAS3) dataset on discrimination against religious minorities, regulation of the majority religion, and support for religion. According to some of the stricter operationalizations, no countries have religious freedom; even using the most lenient approach, most countries in the world do not have religious freedom. These findings also apply to Western democracies, thus contradicting claims that liberal democracy is strongly associated with religious freedom.