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The Varieties of Religious RepressionWhy Governments Restrict Religion$
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Ani Sarkissian

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199348084

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199348084.001.0001

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Paradoxical or Rational?

Paradoxical or Rational?

Religious Freedom in Nondemocratic States

(p.161) 6 Paradoxical or Rational?
The Varieties of Religious Repression

Ani Sarkissian

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines 39 countries that subjected no religious groups to harsh government restrictions on expression, association, or political activities. It argues that in countries that continue to experience nondemocratic rule, leaders refrain from attempting to repress religious groups because they do not perceive them to be politically threatening. This can be explained by low levels of religious division in society, religious homogeneity, or the nature of historical religion-state relations. Case studies of Albania, Senegal, and Peru illustrate how higher levels of political competition interact with lower religious divisions to lead to a situation in which religious freedom is largely respected. A study of Cambodia shows that even in a less politically competitive environment, politicians do not attempt to manipulate religion policy as a governing tool when doing so will lead to negative political consequences.

Keywords:   Albania, Senegal, Peru, Cambodia, religious freedom, religious homogeneity, religion-state relations

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