Religious repression-defined as the non-violent suppression of civil and political rights-is a growing global phenomenon, but one that has not received much attention.
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. The Varieties of Religious Repression 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.
Ani Sarkissian examines the interaction of political competition and the structure of religious divisions in society, presenting a theory of the variances of religious repression across non-democratic regimes.
Sarkissian offers a new way of understandingthe commonalties and differences of non-democratic regimes by focusing on the targets of religious repression. Drawing on quantitative data from 101 authoritarian states from 1990-2010 and case studies of sixteen countries from around the world, Sarkissian explores the varieties of repression states impose on religious expression, association, and political activities, and describes the obstacles these present for democratization, pluralism, and the development of an independent civil society.