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ERIC Number: ED567112
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Searching for the Dividends of Religious Liberty: Who Benefits and Who Pays?
Holsinger, Donald B.
Bulgarian Comparative Education Society, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society (10th, Kyustendil, Bulgaria, Jun 12-15, 2012)
Although recent research has established that there are positive correlations among indicators of religious freedom and social capital and economic development, the question addressed in this paper has to do with the evangelistic success of three outreach-oriented churches with worldwide membership bases. This preliminary investigation uses only the Average Quinquennial Growth Rate (AQGR) as the dependent variable of interest. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons (or, interchangeably, LDS) and Seventh-day Adventists all share a great deal in common. They are strict in the sense of requiring adherence to behavior peculiar to their religious tradition and uncommon to the cultures in which they are embedded. They also rely heavily on worldwide evangelism to spread their message and acquire new adherents. All three religions have approximately fifty-year histories in a wide range of countries, and employ active proselyting methods for spreading their message to attract new adherents. These religions are all active in the promotion of freedom of religion in the legal and social contexts in which they perform their evangelizing activities. The central question addressed in this paper is whether religious liberty has affected membership growth in a sample of 170 countries over a period of the past fifty years. Scholars have hypothesized a negative relationship but this has never been demonstrated empirically to our knowledge. We were unable to find a significant association between a range of religious liberty measures and our indicator of membership growth for any of the three religious groups under consideration. Our large 50-year (1960 to 2010) and 170 country database did show statistical associations between membership growth and human development (strongly negative), and also with economic development (also negative), providing some support for the modernization theory of religious growth. [For complete volume, see ED567040.]
Bulgarian Comparative Education Society. Blvd Shipchenski prohod 69 A, 1574 Sofia, Bulgaria. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A