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Religion–state relations and public opinion: norms, institutions and social consensus

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Are levels of religion–state regulation associated with cross-national variation in attitudes related to the place of religion in public life? Data sources measuring both the institutional relationship between religion and state and public opinion on the political role of religion have significantly improved in recent years, but scholars have just begun to examine relationships between political institutions and public attitudes. This contribution tests several potential examples of such links by exploring the relationship between religion–state institutions and norms of religion and politics, both between and within countries. The contribution first develops theoretical expectations regarding the institutional correlates of public opinion, then conducts initial tests of these expectations by blending data from the Religion and State project with comparative survey data drawn from Waves 4 and 5 of the World Values Survey. Analysis demonstrates modest links between institutions and aggregate public views, a relationship between institutions and social consensus, and, most robustly, consistent variation in institutional effects across political regime type.
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Keywords: Secularism; political institutions; regimes; religion–state relations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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