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Exploring Religious Minorities across Nations

Collecting reliable data on religion internationally can be incredibly challenging. Surveys are limited by not only the difficulties of translating questions into multiple languages but also in creating questions that are equally salient across different cultures and religious traditions.

While some nations include religion questions on their censuses, not all do. Even among those nations that do collect centralized data on their populations’ religious compositions, the varying methodologies and motivations underlying these efforts make comparisons difficult.

Despite these challenges, there are some sources of information that you can turn to.  The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) contains a wide variety of data and is constantly being updated as new sources become available. This tutorial will quickly introduce you to some of these resources and how they can be used. We will focus on examining issues related to nations’ religious minorities.

Let us begin by opening your internet browser and going to the homepage of the ARDA at www.thearda.com.

To assist you through this tutorial, boxes like the one below will highlight the key steps and instructions:

Throughout the tutorial you will find questions to help check for your understanding and highlight key information.  These questions will look like the following:

 

  • What is your name?

 

______________________________________

 

Step 1: Examining a National Profile

To learn about the religious minorities in a nation, you must first obtain an overall picture of that nation’s religious composition. You can do this using the ARDA’s national profiles.

You will notice a series of red tabs across the top of the page representing different parts of the ARDA’s website. Click on the red International tab.

(If you hover your mouse over the tab, a drop down box will appear.  However, for now just ignore these options and click on the red part of the tab.)

You will notice that you are taken to a page with the names of many nations listed alphabetically. You can click on a nation’s name to take you to the ARDA’s profile for that nation.  Let’s start by looking at the profile for Egypt.

You will be taken to the first page of the national profile for Egypt. On the left-hand side you will see a box containing the flag and some basic information for Egypt.

 

  • What is the population size of Egypt?

 

_________________________

 

  • What is the official religion or church of Egypt?

 

_________________________

 

On the right-hand side you will see a pie chart showing the religious composition of Egypt.

 

  • What percentage of Egypt’s population is Muslim?

 

_________________________

 

  • What percentage of Egypt’s population is Christian?

 

_________________________

 

Often when we are interested in issues related to religious minorities we are looking for information about how a nation regulates or persecutes those minorities. The ARDA has several sources of data on these issues.

You will notice that directly above the box with the population information and the box with the religious composition chart are several gray tabs. One of these tabs is for Religious Freedom. Click on this tab.

You will be taken to a page with a table showing different measures of Egypt’s religious freedom and how it compares to other nations in its region and in the world.

At the top of this page you will see several gauges depicting Egypt’s level on several measures of religious freedom. These measures come from the ARDA’s coding of the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Reports.

Note: These are measures of religious regulation and persecution. Therefore, a score of 10 represents a low level of religious freedom (more regulation and persecution). A score of 1 represents a high level of religious freedom (less regulation and persecution).

 

  • What is Egypt’s score on Government Regulation of Religion?

 

_________________________

  • What is regional North Africa score on Government Regulation of Religion?

 

_________________________

 

  • What is the overall World score on Government Regulation of Religion?

 

_________________________

 

You may be curious what information precisely these scores are assessing. If you move your mouse over the gauge for Egypt a pop-up will appear that will give you more information about the measure’s content.

If you look below the gauges you will see other tables showing more religious freedom data from the ARDA’s coding of the U.S. State Department’s reports, as well as from other sources such as the Religion and State Project, the Center for Religious Freedom, and Freedom House.

Sometimes you might want to know what people in a nation think about religion and religious minorities. This can be difficult if there have not been many surveys done in the nation (or if they are not available to the public).

However, for some nations the ARDA does have relevant survey data available. If so, this will be available under the tab labeled Public Opinion. Go ahead and click on it.

Look under the section labeled Religious Beliefs.

 

  • In 2005, what percent of the population in Egypt said that they do not trust people of other religions?

 

_________________________

  • In 2000, what percent of the population in Egypt said that the government protects religious freedom?

 

_________________________

 

  • Does the previous question seem to contradict what you found earlier about Egypt’s religious freedom? Keeping in mind the issue of religious minorities, what might explain this?

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

The ARDA’s national profiles often have one other feature that might be of use to you when examining issues of religious minorities. Specifically, you might want to see what the nation’s constitution has to say about religion. If available, you will see a tab for Constitution. Click on this tab.

 

  • What does Article 2 of Egypt’s constitution say?

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Step 2: Comparing Nations

In Step 1 we explored how to view the national profile of an individual nation to examine issues related to religious minorities. However, you might want to compare a few nations to each other in more detail.  For example, maybe you want to compare Egypt, South Africa, Jordan and Turkey. This step of the tutorial will show you how to do that on the ARDA’s website.

Let’s start back at the homepage of the ARDA.  If you are no longer on the ARDA website, open your browser and type in the address.  If you are still on the ARDA website, you can click the ARDA logo in the top left-hand corner of the page to go to the homepage.

Now, go back to the International section of the ARDA website by clicking on the red tab in the menu across the top of the page.

You will see the alphabetized list of nations on the first page.  However, you will notice several gray tabs above this list. One of these tabs is labeled Compare Nations. Go ahead and click on this tab.

On this page you will see a drop down box with a list of nations.  Let’s start by selecting the nation we examined in Step 1.  Use the drop down box to select Egypt.

You will notice that after selecting the first nation a second drop down box appears for “Country 2”. You can keep selecting nations up to a total of eight (8).

Let’s select three more nations: South Africa, Jordan, and Turkey.

Once you have these five nations selected, click the button for Run Comparison. Note: Just leave Country 5 as “Select a country”.

You will first see a page that has a table showing you some basic information for the nations you chose to compare.

 

  • How do these five nations compare on their population sizes?

 

Egypt:                         _________________________

 

South Africa:   _________________________

 

Jordan:                        _________________________

 

Turkey:           _________________________

 

Below that table you will see a table summarizing the state of religious regulation and persecution in each of the selected nations.  Finally, below that you will see brief histories of the selected nations.

 

Now, above the first table you will see a series of gray tabs.  Note that these are the same tabs that we explored in the national profiles in Step 1 of this tutorial. Click on the gray Adherents tab.

 

You will be shown a table comparing the religious compositions of the nations you selected for comparisons. Below this table you will find brief descriptions of the religious composition of each nation.

 

  • What is the majority religion in each of these nations, and what is the percentage for that majority religion?

 

Egypt:                         _________________________

 

South Africa:   _________________________

 

Jordan:                        _________________________

 

Turkey:           _________________________

…………

 

Go ahead and click on the next tab for Religious Freedom.

Here you will find several tables providing you a variety of measures of religious freedom in the nations you selected. Look under the first section of Religious Freedom Indexes.

Religious persecution is almost always targeted at religious minorities. The ARDA’s measure of religious persecution (based on the U.S. State Department’s reports) assessing the number of people in the nation abused or displaced because of their religion.

 

  • What are the levels of Religious Persecution in these nations?

 

Egypt:                         _________________________

 

South Africa:   _________________________

 

Jordan:                        _________________________

 

Turkey:           _________________________

There are two more tabs. Let’s take a look at the Public Opinion tab.

The table you see at the top of this page labeled Social Regulation of Religion comes from the ARDA’s coding of the U.S. State Department’s Religious Freedom reports.

 

  • Which of these four nations’ reports noted that citizens are intolerant of non-traditional faiths or religions?

 

_________________________

 

_________________________

 

If you scroll down you will see some tables with data from surveys of these nations’ populations.

 

  • What percent of these nations’ populations attend religious services at least once a month?

 

Egypt:                         _________________________

 

South Africa:   _________________________

 

Jordan:                        _________________________

 

Turkey:           _________________________

 

Step 3: Mapping Issues Related to Religious Minorities

The last skill we are going to practice might be the most fun. We are going to examine how you can map religious freedom.

Let’s start back at the homepage of the ARDA.  If you are no longer on the ARDA website, open your browser and type in the address.  If you are still on the ARDA website, you can click the ARDA logo in the top left-hand corner of the page to go to the homepage.

Now, go back to the International section of the ARDA website by clicking on the red tab in the menu across the top of the page.

You will see the alphabetized list of nations on the first page.  However, you will notice several gray tabs above this list. One of these tabs is labeled Maps. Go ahead and click on this tab.

If you look to the right-hand side of this page you will see an area for Create a New Map. Leave the first box selected on “The World.” Click on the second box and select the Religious Freedom, 2008 data.

 

  • Briefly describe what this map shows. What areas have the highest and lowest levels of religious freedom?

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________

 

You are now at the end of this tutorial.  You should be able to now explore individual national profiles, compare nations’ profiles and map international data using the ARDA’s website. We hope that these tools will help you when you are examining issues related to religious minorities.

Go ahead and spend some time exploring these resources on your own.

 

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