The Varieties of Religious Repression

Why Governments Restrict Religion

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Ani Sarkissian
  • New York, NY: 
    Oxford University Press
    , February
     264 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This book has also been reviewed in JAAR by Ivan Strenski. 

Religious repression--the non-violent suppression of civil and political rights--is a growing and global phenomenon. Though most often practiced in authoritarian countries, levels of religious repression nevertheless vary across a range of non-democratic regimes, including illiberal democracies and competitive authoritarian states.

In The Varieties of Religious Repression, Ani Sarkissian argues that seemingly benign regulations and restrictions on religion are tools that non-democratic leaders use to repress independent civic activity, effectively maintaining their hold on power. Sarkissian examines the interaction of political competition and the structure of religious divisions in society, presenting a theory of why religious repression varies across non-democratic regimes. She also offers a new way of understanding the commonalties and differences of non-democratic regimes by focusing on the targets of religious repression.

Drawing on quantitative data from more than one hundred authoritarian states, as well as case studies of sixteen countries from around the world, Sarkissian explores the varieties of repression that states impose on religious expression, association, and political activities, describing the obstacles these actions present for democratization, pluralism, and the development of an independent civil society.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Ani Sarkissian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. In 2006, she received her PhD in comparative politics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research addresses the effects of religious regulations, organizations, attitudes, and practices on political development.

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