The purpose of this chapter is to provide a basic analysis of the Religion and State (RAS) dataset on the global level. In doing so it specifically examines shifts over time in government involvement in religion (GIR) as well as the causes or correlates of GIR. The term “global” has two meanings in this context. First, the analysis includes all 175 countries in the RAS dataset. Second, it focuses on the six composite variables described in Chapter 3 and not their individual components. Put differently, this chapter concentrates on the overall trends in GIR from 1990 to 2002. Subsequent chapters will examine more specific aspects of GIR.
The analysis here revolves around several interrelated issues. What is the extent of GIR across the globe? What change, if any, has there been over time in the extent of GIR and separation of religion and state (SRAS)? What basic factors can explain the variation in GIR from country to country? Two factors that are given particular attention in this respect are economic development and religious traditions.
This analysis tests the modernization-secularization theory (described in detail in Chapter 2), which predicts the decline or possibly the disappearance of the public influence of religion in the modern era. If this body of theory is correct, we would expect three outcomes: that the extent of GIR would be relatively low in the 1990–2002 period; that there would be a drop in GIR between 1990 and 2002; and that more economically developed countries would have less GIR. The results presented here run counter to these expectations and, accordingly, can be interpreted as falsifying modernization-secularization theory with respect to GIR during the 1990 to 2002 period.