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Despite the obvious complexity of the world we live in, there is a desire for simple easy-to-understand principles to help us comprehend it. This is one of the roles of theories and models, to take a complex reality and simplify it sufficiently so we can better understand it. Of course, we acknowledge that reality is more complex, but some of this complexity is sacrificed to achieve better understanding. Because of this, it is popular in academic literature when addressing a topic to form a basic parsimonious theory that “explains” the topic at hand.
This chapter focuses on Western democracies and those former-Soviet Christian-majority democracies that do not have Orthodox Christian majorities. As this is a somewhat awkward label for a group of states, I refer to them in this chapter as European and Western non-Orthodox Christian-majority democracies (EWNOCMD). For operational purposes I define democracy here as any state that scores 8 or higher on the Polity index which measures countries on a scale of –10 (most autocratic) to 10 (most democratic) (The Polity Project, 2018). I include countries with no polity score if the Freedom House democracy index determined them to be “free” (Abramowitz, 2018).
Much of the literature on human rights in general and religious freedom in particular focuses on how governments restrict religious freedom and human rights. Yet nonstate actors are often responsible for frequent and severe discrimination. Rodney Stark and Katie Corcoran (Chapter 2, government-based religious discrimination (GRD) is also very common. So it is perhaps more accurate to say that these “civilian warriors” are working in parallel to or in some cases in conjunction with their governments. This complex relationship between SRD and GRD is a recurring theme throughout this book.
This chapter examines discrimination in nondemocracies that are not Western or European democracies, communist, Muslim-majority, Buddhist-majority, or Orthodox-majority. I designate these thirty-eight countries “The Rest Nondemocracies” (TRND). Other than Bosnia,1 they are found in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and contain 148 religious minorities that are included in the RASM dataset.
Religious discrimination is one of a series of contested terms including religious freedom, religious tolerance or intolerance, religious repression, and religious human rights. There is no agreement in the literature on what these terms, and other related terms, mean. Accordingly, it is critical to define one’s terms when addressing any of these issues in order to achieve transparency on what is being discussed.
The causes of discrimination are complex, diverse, and crosscutting. This is further complicated by the fact that the multiple causes of government religious discrimination (GRD) manifest differently in different settings. This chapter examines levels of GRD in an eclectic group of states: Christian-Orthodox-majority states, Buddhist-majority states, and Communist states. While this may seem to be an odd grouping of states, there are at least four commonalities between them. First, each of these groupings contains relatively few states. Second, GRD is distinctly common in these states and high in many of them, though the reasons for this differs across groupings. Third, some form of ideology and government religion policy both play a strong role in causing GRD in these states, but the many other causes of GRD also play an important role. Fourth, as I discuss later, GRD against Christians is particularly high in these countries. Orthodox-majority states focus this GRD on Christian denominations they consider nonindigenous, mostly North American protestant denominations. The Buddhist-majority and Communist states seems more generally hostile to Christians, most of whom they also consider nonindigenous and in some cases a threat to the state.
The previous chapters covered the West, the former-Soviet Bloc (except Bosnia),1 as well as all Muslim-majority, Orthodox-majority, Buddhist-majority, and Communist states around the world. This and the following chapter focus on “the rest,” that is, all states that do not fit into these categories. This chapter focuses on the democratic states in this category and refers to them as “the rest-democracies” (TRD). These 32 countries and 166 minorities are found primarily in Latin America, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, and the majority of them, but by no means all of them, are Christian-majority. As I did in Chapter 5, for operational purposes I define democracy here as any state that scores 8 or higher on the Polity index, which measures countries on a scale of –10 (most autocratic) to 10 (most democratic) (The Polity Project, 2018). Countries with no polity score were included if they were determined to be “free” by the Freedom House democracy index (Abramowitz, 2018).
The nature of a government’s relationship with the majority religion, in this case Islam, is a significant factor in understanding government-based religious discrimination (GRD). As I show in subsequent chapters, this is also true of other groupings of states, but this relationship is arguably most pronounced in Muslim-majority states. My focus on this factor is not intended to deny the influence of other factors such as societal religious discrimination (SRD), which I also address in this chapter. Rather, I intend to emphasize the importance of this factor in this segment of the world’s countries due to its significant explanatory value.
If there is one aspiration shared by all religious people worldwide, it is the desire to practice their religions freely and without hindrance or restriction. While many of these people may not feel that members of other religions should have this same right, this desire for the free exercise of religion is universal among the religious. Yet, as I discuss in more detail in Chapter 2, religious discrimination is ubiquitous against religious minorities. Thus, this yearning for religious freedom is far more often a dream than it is a reality for religious minorities.
This book is among the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of the causes of religious discrimination to date, complete with detailed illustrations and anecdotes. Jonathan Fox examines the causes of government-based religious discrimination (GRD) against 771 minorities in 183 countries over the course of twenty-five years, while offering possible reasons for why some minorities are discriminated against more than others. Fox illustrates the complexities inherent in the causes of GRD, which can emerge from secular ideologies, religious monopolies, anti-cult policies, security concerns and more. Western democracies tend to discriminate more than Christian-majority countries in the developing world, whether they are democratic or not. While the causes of GRD are ubiquitous, they play out in vastly different ways across world regions and religious traditions. This book serves as a method for better understanding this particular form of discrimination, so that we may have the tools to better combat it and foster compassion across people of different religions and cultures.
Interstate conflicts involving religion are commonly argued to be more severe and more protracted than other forms of conflict. Although various arguments have sought to explain religion's apparent contributions to global violence, few consider the foreign policy goals over which religious actors actually fight. This article does so by examining whether religiously-exclusive states tend to militarize interstate territorial disputes (MIDs) over issues of strategic material or identity salience. Insofar as religiously-exclusive states seek to “defend the faith” against internal and external challengers, identity-salient disputes should be a particularly attractive target for militarization. We however find the opposite. Although religiously-exclusive states do initiate territorial MIDs more frequently than their secular counterparts, they are significantly more likely to do so owing to disputed territories' strategic rather than symbolic value. These results challenge accepted wisdom regarding religion's influence on international conflict and suggest critical new avenues for research.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Political secularism is defined as “an ideology or set of beliefs advocating that religion ought to be separate from all or some aspects of politics or public life (or both).” In the secular–religious competition perspective, I argue that political secularists compete with religious political actors to influence government policy around the world. Yet this competition is complicated by many factors. The contributions to this symposium demonstrate that this is the case in their examination of secular–religious tensions and state–religion relations in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Tunisia. These cases show that government religion policy evolves over time and is deeply influenced by secular–religious competition but that this competition is a complex one involving many other factors and influences.