Religion and State--Minorities

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This Religion and State-Minorities (RASM) dataset is supplemental to the Religion and State round 2 (RAS2) dataset. It codes the RAS religious discrimination variable using the minority as the unit of analysis (RAS2 uses a country as the unit of analysis and, is a general measure of all discrimination in the country). RASM codes religious discrimination by governments against all 566 minorities in 175 countries which make a minimum population cut off. Any religious minority which is at least 0.25 percent of the population or has a population of at least 500,000 (in countries with populations of 200 million or more) are included. The dataset also includes all Christian minorities in Muslim countries and all Muslim minorities in Christian countries for a total of 597 minorities. The data cover 1990 to 2008 with yearly codings.

These religious discrimination variables are designed to examine restrictions the government places on the practice of religion by minority religious groups. It is important to clarify two points. First, these variables focus on restrictions on minority religions. Restrictions that apply to all religions are not coded in this set of variables. This is because the act of restricting or regulating the religious practices of minorities is qualitatively different from restricting or regulating all religions. Second, this set of variables focuses only on restrictions of the practice of religion itself or on religious institutions and does not include other types of restrictions on religious minorities. The reasoning behind this is that there is much more likely to be a religious motivation for restrictions on the practice of religion than there is for political, economic, or cultural restrictions on a religious minority. These secular types of restrictions, while potentially motivated by religion, also can be due to other reasons. That political, economic, and cultural restrictions are often placed on ethnic minorities who share the same religion and the majority group in their state is proof of this.

This set of variables is essentially a list of specific types of religious restrictions which a government may place on some or all minority religions. These variables are identical to those included in the RAS2 dataset, save that one is not included because it focuses on foreign missionaries and this set of variables focuses on minorities living in the country. Each of the items in this category is coded on the following scale:

0. The activity is not restricted or the government does not engage in this practice.
1. The activity is restricted slightly or sporadically or the government engages in a mild form of this practice or a severe form sporadically.
2. The activity is significantly restricted or the government engages in this activity often and on a large scale.

A composite version combining the variables to create a measure of religious discrimination against minority religions which ranges from 0 to 48 also is included.

Data File
Cases: 597
Variables: 609
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 2009-2011
Funded By
The John Templeton Foundation, Israel Science Foundation and The Sara and Simha Lainer Chair in Democracy and Civility
Collection Procedures
For each state, coders would prepare a report based on human rights reports, academic resources, as well as news media sources, primarily taken from the Lexis/Nexis database. Based on this report the coder filled out the codesheet under the supervision of Jonathan Fox. An additional measure to ensure inter-coder reliability is our policy that about one in every four states was recoded by an additional coder based on the reports discussed and compared to the original coding. For more details see the RAS website.
Sampling Procedures
This project coded all countries which in 2000 had a population of at least 250,000 and Western Democracy countries with lower populations.
Principal Investigators
Jonathan Fox, Bar Ilan University
Related Publications
For a full listing of related publications, see the Religion and State project

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