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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Asia


Asia has a high level of diversity both in regard to religious identity and government religion policy. The region contains countries that strongly support a single religion, countries that repress all religion, and just about everything in between. However, one thing most of these states have in common is that their governments involve themselves significantly in religious issues. This is clear from the data presented in Tables 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4, Of the 28 governments examined here, 9 have official religions and an additional 10 support religion. Five are hostile to religion and only 4 are coded as “accommodation,” having separation of religion and state (SRAS).

All but 5 of these states place restrictions on minority religions, and all 16 types of restrictions coded by the RAS dataset are present in multiple Asian states. The most common form of restriction is limits on proselytizing, which are present in 18 of these states. In 14 states there are restrictions on building, maintaining, or repairing places of worship, and 14 restrict the printing, import, or distribution of religious literature. There are 11 states that arrest, detain, or harass religious minorities for practicing their religion. All of the other 12 types of restrictions not specifically mentioned here exist in at least 3 states in Asia.

Asian states also significantly regulate their majority religions. Of the 11 forms of regulation coded by the RAS project, nine exist in at least two Asian states.

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