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Religion and state entanglement and interstate armed conflict initiation, 1990–2010

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The relationship of religion to armed conflict initiation, as opposed to occurrence, remains understudied and undertheorised. The same is true for the relationship of religion to armed conflicts between states, cf. intra-state or extra-state conflict. This contribution adds to the understanding of both of these conflict outcomes. It examines the relationship to interstate armed conflict initiation of state religion, operationalised as government involvement in religion in the Religion and State dataset of Jonathan Fox. We find sufficient evidence to conclude that religion–state entanglement does raise states’ propensities towards first use of military force. Official religion and official support are both strongly correlated with that outcome. Legislative support to the majority religion is also well correlated with it. State-level discrimination against minority religions is weakly but positively correlated, but heavy regulation of majority religions is not correlated. We further find evidence that minority discrimination, majority regulation and legislative support wield their effects in tandem more strongly than they do individually. The foregoing supports the theory that official religious preference does make states more militant.
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Keywords: Religion and state; armed conflict onset; data; official religion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), University Park, PA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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