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Love Thy Neighbor? Relationships between Religion and Racial Intolerance in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2015

Stefanie Doebler*
Queen's University Belfast
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Stefanie Doebler, School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom. E-mail:;


This article examines relationships between religion and racial intolerance across 47 countries by applying multilevel modeling to European survey data and is the first in-depth analysis of moderation of these relationships by European national contexts. The analysis distinguishes a believing, belonging, and practice dimension of religiosity. The results yield little evidence of a link between denominational belonging, religious practice, and racial intolerance. The religiosity dimension that matters most for racial intolerance in Europe is believing: believers in a traditional God and believers in a Spirit/Life Force are decidedly less likely, and fundamentalists are more likely than non-believers to be racially intolerant. National contexts also matter greatly: individuals living in Europe's most religious countries, countries with legacies of ethnic-religious conflict and countries with low GDP are significantly more likely to be racially intolerant than those living in wealthier, secular and politically stable countries. This is especially the case for the religiously devout.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2015 

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