A Critique of Fox and Sandler’s Article Separation of Church and State in the Twenty-First Century: Comparing the Middle East and Western Democracies
The article Separation of Church and State in the Twenty-First Century: Comparing the Middle East and Western Democracies claims that religion is increasingly becoming a substantial part of politics, both internationally and locally. The article raises question if there is any sort of relation between religion and state in democracies. The study approaches the subject by examining the separation and or attachment of religion and state, in autocracies of the Middle East, and democracies in the western region. With a meso-level of examination, the Religion and State dataset (RAS) is utilized, which examines 152 states between 1990 and 2002. Analyzing religion and state as the independent variable and democracy as the dependent, the RAS assess five factors: the foundational relationship of religion and state, status of minority religions, discrimination of minority groups, regulation of majority religions, and legislation of religion. The empirical evidence from the dataset concludes that the Middle East has generally the most elevated scores in all categories. The highest ratings of these autocratic countries were seen in the discrimination of religious groups, and religious legislation. However western democracies surprisingly showed a low percentile rate in complete separation, with the exception of the United States.
The methodology used for this article has aspects of both qualitative and quantitative research. For qualitative analysis, the small N study of the RAS is chosen to critically examine the correlation of religion and state in depth with two cases: autocracies in the Middle East and democracies in the western region. However the dataset is also quantitative as information gained from all five variables... [continues]
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