State regulation of religion: the effect of religious freedom on Muslims’ religiosity
Substantial scholarship argues that regulation of religion suppresses religiosity in a community by reducing individuals’ satisfaction with their religious experience. To date this research has assumed that regulations are enforced on and affect religious communities uniformly. It has also focused heavily on Western Christian populations and aggregated national data. We suggest that state regulation of religious communities and behaviours impacts citizens differently based on their affiliation. Using individual-level assessments of freedom and religiosity from Muslim-majority countries, we show that, at the individual level, restricting freedom suppresses religious belief and behaviour. Restrictions on religious minorities, however, can increase religiosity. As such, we question the religious market theory literature’s conclusion that the freest religious markets must have the greatest levels of religious participation. We also raise concerns about current measures of religious freedom’s capacity to measure individuals’ freedom in Muslim-majority countries.
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