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dc.contributor.advisorOmelicheva, Mariya Y
dc.contributor.authorHerrington, Luke M.
dc.description.abstractAccording to the Religious Freedom Peace Thesis (RFPT), efforts to regulate religious expression stimulate political violence around the globe. Not only does this indicate that the spread of religious freedom abroad is an essential ingredient in the maintenance of domestic stability and international order, but it also implies that religious freedom can ameliorate the conditions said to give rise to terrorism and other social ills. Evidence is mounting for such claims, but like broader debates on repression and violence, research on this relationship has yet to conclusively demonstrate the reality of the so-called “religious freedom peace.” Indeed, not only have some ostensible instances of persecution occurred in religiously free states, but individuals perceiving themselves, their coreligionists, or others as victims of such behavior have even lashed out violently against these states.

Previous efforts to test the RFPT have likely been hamstrung by conceptual ambiguities and a general unwillingness to open the black box of religious freedom. By contrast, I see religious freedom as a multivalent phenomenon, and as such, I contend that we must “unpack” the nebulous concept in order to fully elucidate the manifold relationships that likely exist between distinct elements of religious freedom on the one hand, and political violence on the other. The dimensions of religious freedom in which I am interested include minorities’ religious liberty, religious tolerance for minorities, and religious diversity. However, since an individual’s subjective evaluations of religious freedom may not align with features on-the-ground that characterize their country’s sociopolitical milieu, I am especially interested in popular perceptions of religious freedom.

Insofar as the RFPT is concerned, each aspect of religious freedom should work similarly to reduce political violence. In the three articles that follow though, I test this assertion, and I find that a far more complex relationship exists. In the first article, an analysis of countries’ proneness to suffering from different kinds of terrorism, while I find that religious tolerance and religious diversity do indeed lead to reductions in political violence, I also find that countries characterized by the greatest degree of religious liberty will be the most susceptible to the threat of terrorism. However, mass perceptions of religious freedom aggregated from the individual level exert little impact on whether a country is attacked, how often it is attacked, or how deadly those attacks might be.

In the second article, a multilevel examination of support for political violence in public opinion data, I find limited support for the idea that perceptions reduce support for political violence among Muslim respondents. However, I also find that perceptions of free choice promote reductions in support for political violence. Furthermore while, I find that valuing religious freedom and a secular worldview consistently lead to reductions in support for political violence, I also find that the effects of country-level religious freedom indicators on public support for political violence largely depend on model specification.

The third article continues the focus on perceptions of religious freedom and support for violence, but it focuses exclusively on the United States (U.S.). The U.S. represents an interesting puzzle for the RFPT because American Christian conservatives increasingly perceive their right to exercise their religions freely as being in danger. Such views are cultivated by the persecution discourse promoted by conservative elites. However, by the logic of the RFPT, the spread of such views foster violence. Nevertheless, although I find that persecution discourse shapes perceptions of threat to religious freedom, I find no support for the idea that it also leads to increased support for political violence.
dc.format.extent310 pages
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansas
dc.rightsCopyright held by the author.
dc.subjectInternational relations
dc.subjectPolitical science
dc.subjectPolitical Violence
dc.subjectReligious Freedom
dc.subjectReligious Freedom Peace Thesis
dc.subjectReligious Persecution
dc.titleUnpacking the "Religious Freedom Peace": Religious Freedom as a Multivalent Determinant of Political Violence
dc.contributor.cmtememberAvdan, Nazli
dc.contributor.cmtememberHaider-Markel, Donald P
dc.contributor.cmtememberRohrschneider, Robert
dc.contributor.cmtememberSeyer, Sean
dc.thesis.degreeDisciplinePolitical Science

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