Pew Research Center has carried out a survey in order to find out the most official or preferred state religion.
According to the research, Islam is the most popular official state religion as it is named in the constitutions or basic laws of 27 countries. This means that 63 percent of the 43 countries that have an official religion are Muslims.
These Islamic countries are spread across Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
13 countries out of the remaining are officially Christian. Buddhism is the state religion of Cambodia and Bhutan while Israel is the sole Jewish state.
The study also shows that Christianity is favoured by 28 of the 40 countries. Though not official, these countries show an obvious preference — “typically with legal, financial, or other kinds of practical benefits” — for Christianity.
These Christianity-favored countries can be found in Europe, America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.
As you may have suspected, the downside with nations with official or preferred state religion is that they usually have tight regulations that have affect minority religious groups.
On the other hand, the study shows that majority of national governments are neutral towards religion.
The report reads: “In some cases, state religions have roles that are largely ceremonial. But often the distinction comes with tangible advantages in terms of legal or tax status, ownership of real estate or other property, and access to financial support from the state.
“In addition, countries with state-endorsed (or “established”) faiths tend to more severely regulate religious practice, including placing restrictions or bans on minority religious groups.’
“Most governments around the globe, however, are generally neutral toward religion.”
In conclusion, 20 percent of countries across the world have official religions, about 53 percent of countries are neutral while five percent (10 in total) anti-religion.
Vietnam, China, North Korea, and Cuba fall in the last category, they are seen as hostile to religion.