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Peter S. Henne

The causes and effects of religious repression

Posted: September 12th, 2017 by phenne

After finding religion-state connections to be important in my book, I looked further into the nature of one aspect of these connections, religious repression.

In “The Domestic Politics of International Religious Defamation,” published in Politics and Religion, I analyzed the fascinating case of UN debates over religious defamation. A series of resolutions attempted to ban defamation of religion, and attracted significant support from both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. I found that one of the biggest predictors of support was the extent of religious repression in a country. I argued that states with repressive policies sought to gain international cover for them by passing sympathetic resolutions.

I expanded on this in “Does the UN Human Rights Council help or hurt on religious repression?” which is forthcoming in the Journal of Church and State. I argued that repressive states on the UN Human Rights Council use their seats to deflect criticism of their domestic repression. This can provide cover for repressive policies, especially religious repression, which is more subtle and contested than broader forms of repression. A working paper version is available here.

I also looked at religious repression in The Effect of Religious Restrictions on Forced Migration (co-authored with Melanie Kolbe), in Politics and Religion. In this article, we found that while religious identity does not seem to influence the severity of refugee crises, religious repression–particularly bans of religious groups by the state–can greatly increase the extent of forced migration due to the power and importance of religious beliefs.

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