The Genesis of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 3: Religious identity, local governance, and public goods
The chapter analyses the effects of religious identity – defined both as personal identification with a religious tradition and evaluation of a central religious institution – on attitudes toward centralization. It explores whether religious citizens are more likely to evaluate their government positively than atheists. It also tests whether adherence to conservative norms of governance lead to a positive evaluation of government. Surveys conducted in Russia and Israel provide a mosaic of three major world religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The information gathered provides a study of the role of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem toward the centralized provision of public goods. The study finds strong support for the proposition that religious identity and conservative norms of governance reinforce positive evaluations of government. It also reveals that personal religious identity increases positive attitudes toward local government, while institutional religious identity consolidates positive perceptions of government at both central and local levels.
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