Islam Is World’s Top State Religion

Islam is the world’s most common government-endorsed faith, with 27 countries officially backing the Muslim faith, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of 199 countries and territories around the world. By comparison, just 13 countries (including nine European nations) designate Christianity or a particular Christian denomination as their state religion. Meanwhile, 10 nations were deemed hostile to all religious faith, including China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and several former Soviet republics.

Forty governments unofficially favor a particular religion, most often a branch of Christianity. Christian churches receive preferential treatment in more countries —28—than any other unofficial but favored faith. The United States was one of 106 nations essentially neutral, with “no official or preferred religion.”

This research is part of a broader effort to understand restrictions on religion around the world. For the past eight years, Pew Research Center has published annual reports analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices. The studies are part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. The project is jointly funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation.

Four-in-ten countries have official state religions or preferred religions, including Islam.



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