How governments treat religion in 199 countries and territories.
More than 40 percent of the world’s countries have an official or preferred state religion, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center.
Pew surveyed 199 countries to ascertain which were publicly in favor of religion—and which religions they favored. Researchers weighed not only constitutions, laws, and policies, but also actions taken for or against religious groups.
The most popular official state religion is Islam, which is named in the constitutions or basic laws of 27 countries. That’s 63 percent of the 43 countries that officially designate a religion.
Many of those countries lie in the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, Lebanon is the only one in the region not to have an official or preferred religion.
“In some cases, state religions have roles that are largely ceremonial,” Pew researchers stated. “But often the distinction comes with tangible advantages in terms of legal or tax status, ownership of real estate or other property, and access to financial support from the state.”
Having a declared religious preference also meant those countries “tend to more severely regulate religious practice including placing restrictions or bans on minority religious groups.”
Two countries have officially named Buddhism (Bhutan and Cambodia), and one Judaism (Israel), as their state religions.
Thirteen countries list Christianity as their state religion—nine in Europe (including the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Iceland), two in the Caribbean (Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic), one in Africa (Zambia), and one an island nation of 10,000 in the Pacific Ocean (Tuvalu).
But while Christianity isn’t often named in a country’s documents, it is …
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