Public Opinion on the Role of Religion in Political Leadership: A Multi-level Analysis of Sixty-three Countries

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Listhaug, Ola; & Carlson, Matthew (2006) Public Opinion on the Role of Religion in Political Leadership: A Multi-level Analysis of Sixty-three Countries , Japanese Journal of Political Science 7(3): 251–271.

Abstract Are there significant variations across major religious faiths about the proper political roles of religion? Using recent World Values/European Values data from 63 countries we study the attitudes of mass publics on two separate aspects of this question. First, should religious beliefs be used as a criterion for selecting political leaders (dimension I)? Second, should religious leaders use their position for political influence (dimension II)? For dimension I we find that Muslims are somewhat more likely than followers of other faiths and denominations to say that religious beliefs are important in selecting leaders. The remaining results of our investigation somewhat weaken or modify this result. On dimension II we find that Muslims do not stand out as comparatively favorable towards the view that religious leaders shall use their position for political influence. Finally, we find a negative, albeit weak and somewhat irregular effect of education on attitudes towards a close link between religion and political leadership (dimension I). However, this effect holds up equally well for Muslims as for other denominations, suggesting that Muslims are not immune to the effects of secularization.

Authors

Matthew Carlson

Matthew Carlson

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Vermont

Ola Listhaug

Ola Listhaug

Programme Leader CSCW WG 6: Values and Violence; Professor of Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology