ARDA Working Papers Series

Exploring the Trends and Consequences of Religious Registration: A Global Overview

Roger Finke
Pennsylvania State University
Dane R. Mataic
Pennsylvania State University
Jonathan Fox
Bar-Ilan University

Religious groups often rely on a registration process to receive the legal status needed to operate openly. Yet, the registration process has become a recent source of controversy. This research uses case studies to understand the controversies surrounding the registration process, three global collections to chart the trends in the use and demands of the registration process, and multivariate models to explore the consequences of introducing registration requirements within a nation. Both the case studies and the descriptive overviews find that the use of religious registration is increasing and it is increasingly resulting in fewer religious freedoms. In the multivariate models we find that religious registration was a significant predictor of the government interfering with the right to religious worship, but was not a significant predicator when it came to the government protecting religious freedom. We conclude that registration can be benign, but it is often used as a tool to interfere or deny the activities of select religions, or all religions.

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