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Has economic development altered the effect of religion on politics?
Politics and Religion: S. Bruce
- When studying the impact of religion on regimes it is very difficult to control for variables, particularly differences in historical circumstance, between states.
- Religion is both socially cohesive and conservative.
- For most people, age, class, and education have become a stronger influence on social outlook than religion.
- The Freedom House survey of political freedom found that, in 2001, 59% of Islamic states remained 'unfree' compared to 14% of non-Islamic states; in fact, repressive regimes in Islamic regions are increasing in incidence; because this measure includes religious freedom and gender equality, Islamic states are likely to underperform 1.
- Saudi Arabia, for example, is both wealthy and politically independent, and yet its regime remains highly repressive; the roots of this can be argued to be either religious or cultural, or both.
- We must be wary of selective comparisons; through looking at different nations, we may draw different conclusions about different religions, but we must not select objects of experiment in order to reinforce some prior conclusion. That Muslim Pakistan has always been ruled by military dictators, whilst Hindu India has been (mostly) a democracy, this does not prove that Islam is more disposed towards dictators.
- The political behaviour of Catholics differs markedly depending on the size and power of the catholic community regarding the rest of the population; in Belgium or Austria, where Catholics formed a majority, or a large plurality, they acted accordingly with official Catholic Church social thought: a closed catholic party.
- Where Catholics were only a small part of the population, such as in the United States for Australia, they tended to demonstrate far less Catholic politics in any institutional sense, being more marked by class interests: an open Catholic party.
- In 1946 50% of Dutch electors voted for a denominational party, this had fallen to 47% in 1967, and then 27% in 1994. Bruce argues that the cracks in this system appeared in the 1960s with a clear decline in church attendance figures. In 1958, three quarters of the Dutch had some church connection, which by 1975 had fallen to 58%, and 43% in 1992. Holland demonstrates the two separate processes of change intertwined; the number of Protestants and Catholics who wished to differ and support separate political parties declined to the point where the Catholic and Protestant parties merged.
- In 1959, in Italy, the Vatican confirmed its historic view that socialists and communists should be excommunicated, and 67% of Italians thought that a good Catholic could not be a Communist, or vote for them. By 1974 only 41% of Italians thought this, and by 1994 this had fallen to 15%. Yet, regular church attendance still voted for the right, with roughly 65% of the 1990 electorate voting for right-wing parties.
- In conclusion, the author argues that religion can inform political preferences in three distinct areas. 1) The privileges of churches. 1 Politics and Religion: S. Bruce

2) Left-right divisions. 3) Moral issues. Why Comparative Politics Should Take Religion More Seriously - ARPS 15: A. GrzymalaBusse
- Religion is of more significance than other social cleavages. Its reach is international, claiming 2billion adherents in the case of Christianity and 1.5billion for Islam; religious authority can challenge the nation state 2.
- Religion places greater restrictions on adherents than most other types of civic interaction, and in return promises supernatural rewards beyond those potentially offered, or deniable, by the state.
- Belief and participation are distinct facets of religiosity, and they must be measured separately as they can have different political consequences.
- Religious organisations lobby parties and can help to set the political agenda, not only by lobbying for legislative action, but also through restricting the range of debate and encouraging voters to assess politicians against criteria they set.
- Religious voters are less likely to support welfare provisions, tending not only to place value on the doctrine of self-help, but also believing that faith groups can play a significant social protection role.
- In instances where religion is entwined with the apparatus of the state, and acknowledging that religious values are implanted at a young age, and conversion is impossible in some cases, economic development has little impact on the complexion of religiosity. The Impact of Religious Identification on Political Attitudes - SR 56: B. Hayes
- Hayes argues that religious identification is a decisive factor in determining political attitudes. It is a relatively stable attribute whose characteristics have remained consistent over time, particularly when compared to the transitory nature of many political preferences. It is possible to estimate the political impact of variance in religious attitudes and upbringings3. Muslim Integration into Western Culture - PS 60: Norris & Inglehart
- Norris and Inglehart examine the extent to which migrants carry the culture of their country of origin with them. More specifically, they look at the migration of Muslims from Islamic nations to Western ones, and the political implications of this. They conclude that, over time, migrants assimilate aspects of the recipient nation's culture, whilst preserving some of their own4.
- In 2005, 3% of the world's population lived outside their country of origin; this percentage has doubled since 1960; Europe's population is now almost 10% immigrant.
- It is possible that migrants, or second-generation migrants, self-isolate from their host nations even when they enjoy good socio-economic prospects, breeding alienation, discontent, and extremism. What can be done to counter a failure of assimilation or a refusal to assimilate?
2 Why Comparative Politics Should Take Religion More Seriously - APRS 15: A. Grzymala-Busse 3 The Impact of Religious Identification on Political Attitudes - SR 56: B. Hayes 4 Muslim Integration into Western Culture - PS60: Norris & Inglehart

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