Contemporary evidence regarding the impact of state regulation of religion on religious participation and belief

Jonathan Fox, Ephraim Tabory

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81 Scopus citations


We examine the impact of religious competition on religiosity by looking at state support for religion as a structural factor affecting religious pluralism. Our independent variable consists of a series of six measures that deal with state support for religion from the Religion and State database (RAS) for the 1990 to 2002 period. Our dependent variables include measures of attendance at religious services, religious beliefs, and self-categorization as a religious person. These indicators for 81 countries are based on the World Values Survey and the International Social Survey Program. Regression analyses controlled for demographic, social, political, and economic indicators, and the nature of the dominant religious denomination. The results indicate that state regulation of religion is significantly and negatively correlated with religiosity in 14 of 72 regressions which include these variables. Twelve of these fourteen regressions are those in which attendance at religious services or individuals classifying themselves as religious are the dependent variables. This is consistent with predictions that religious monopolies will reduce participation but not belief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-271
Number of pages27
JournalSociology of Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*Direct correspondence to Jonathan Fox, Department of Political Studies, Bar Ilan University, 52900 Ramat Gan, Israel ( The Religion and State Dataset, including the specialized version used in this study, is available at This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 896/00) and the Sara and Simha Lainer Chair in Democracy and Civility. The authors gratefully thank Robert Barro for providing us with the religiosity data used in this study, and acknowledge the input of Bernard Lazerwitz and the anonymous reviewers of this journal.


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