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Reconceptualizing Church and State: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Separation of Religion and State on Democracy

  • Robert Brathwaite (a1) and Andrew Bramsen (a1)

This article argues that the relationship between democracy and the separation of religion and state needs to be reexamined. We argue that previous studies have misconceptualized the impact that a lack of church-state separation can have on democracy, or have taken a narrow focus by concentrating on specific cases. We use principal component analysis and a large-n data set covering 125 countries to show that the separation of religion and state should be conceptualized multi-dimensionally and that it should be considered a component of democracy. Our findings show that as separation of religion and state increases, the level of democracy also increases.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Robert Brathwaite or Andrew Bramsen, University of Notre Dame, 217 O'Shaughnessy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:;
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Politics and Religion
  • ISSN: 1755-0483
  • EISSN: 1755-0491
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