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Differing state attitudes towards religion

26th Oct 2017
Differing state attitudes towards religion

 

Hamed Chapman

 

More than 80 countries around the world favour a specific religion, either as an official, government-endorsed religion, or by affording preferential treatment to one faith over others, according to a new survey.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of data covering 199 countries and territories found Islam is the most common endorsed religion, with 27 countries (including most in the Middle East-North Africa region) officially enshrining Islam as their state religion.

By comparison, 13 countries (including nine European nations) designate Christianity or a particular Christian denomination as their state religion though an additional 40 governments unofficially favour a particular religion, and in most cases branch of Christianity.

The different attitudes and policies towards faiths also listed 106 including the US were said to have no preferred religion and another ten that were actively hostile to religious institutions. But it was by no means a clear picture, the report found.

“In some cases, state religions have roles that are largely ceremonial. But often the distinction comes with tangible advantages in terms of legal or tax status, ownership of real estate or other property, and access to financial support from the state,” it said. Some countries also tended to not only regulated practices but placed restrictions or bans on minority religious groups.

The US-based research center has previously found that Islam is the only religion growing faster than the world’s population and has forecast it will overtake Christianity to be the populous in the world in just over half a century.

Demographic change among the world’s major religions suggested that the world’s population of Muslims, which was 1.6 billion in 2010, will grow by 73 per cent between 2010 and 2050, compared to 35 per cent for Christians, whose population was put at 2.17 bn. With the world’s population growing by 37 per cent over the same period, it calculated that if such rates continued, Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070.

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