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The Unfree Exercise of Religion
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Book description

Religious discrimination is the norm in many countries around the world, and the rate is rising. Nearly every country which discriminates does so unequally, singling out some religious minorities for more discrimination than others. Religious tradition does not explain this complex issue. For example, Muslim majority states include both the most discriminatory and tolerant states in the world, as is also the case with Christian majority states. Religious ideologies, nationalism, regime, culture, security issues, and political issues are also all part of the answer. In The Unfree Exercise of Religion Jonathan Fox examines how we understand concepts like religious discrimination and religious freedom, and why countries discriminate. He makes a study of religious discrimination against 597 religious minorities in 177 countries between 1990 and 2008. While 29 types of discrimination are discussed in this book, the most common include restrictions in places of worship, proselytizing, and religious education.


‘The Unfree Exercise of Religion, Jonathan Fox's latest global analysis of the status of religions, solidifies his standing as the leading empirical scholar on the subject. He shows that discrimination against the practices and institutions of 597 minority religions is ubiquitous. More than six out of ten minorities in this new study faced discrimination on one and usually many of 29 indicators. Causal analyses show that no one or handful of conditions can explain why. Whether the state has an official religion, and whether the minority is seen as a security threat, are relevant but so are many other factors. It may be unsurprising that discrimination against religious minorities of every major sect, in every world region, has increased since 1990. But who would have thought that the prosperous Christian democracies would be more discriminatory than their democratic counterparts in the Third World? Could we have anticipated that, globally, Christian religious minorities are most likely to be subject to discrimination and Muslim minorities least so? Unfree Exercise is a remarkable data-based study that spans the entire range of questions, both descriptive and casual, about the nature, causes, and impact of discrimination against religious minorities in 177 countries.'

Ted Robert Gurr - University of Maryland, College Park

‘Political scientist Jonathan Fox brings his characteristic blend of analytic acuity, encyclopedic coverage, and moral concern to the phenomenon of religious discrimination. Drawing from the extraordinary dataset that he has constructed over several years, he brings striking results to bear: all across the globe, religious discrimination is widespread and is getting worse.'

Daniel Philpott - Center for Civil and Human Rights

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