Religion and foreign policy views: Are religious people more altruistic and/or more militant?

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Religion shapes people’s identity and behaviour and thus influences their foreign policy views, yet existing literature has thus far not explored this issue in depth or cross-nationally. This article contributes to filling this gap, by examining the effects of religious belief, belonging, and behaviour on people’s foreign policy views across a large sample of countries. Further, it investigates how these effects are influenced by religions’ social standing and countries’ income level. The study finds that religion significantly heightens followers’ militantly internationalist views while its effect on cooperatively internationalist views is more ambiguous. Frequent religious attendance, self-identification as a religious person, and adherence to Islam tend to make people more altruistic in their foreign policy views while affiliation with Christianity and other religious faiths (Hinduism, Buddhism…) may have the opposite effect. Overall, religion has a stronger effect on foreign-policy views among adherents to majority religions and in poorer countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Early online date6 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2018

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