Forty-three nations have an official state religion and 40 nations give preference or favoritism to a religious tradition, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 199 nations released on Oct. 3.
Of the remaining 116 nations included in the assessment, 106 (53 percent) have no official or preferred religious tradition and 10 (5 percent) are either hostile to religion or regulate all faith expressions.
The nations deemed hostile to religious expression are Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Islam is the official state religion in 27 countries, while Christianity (or a Christian denomination) is official in 13 countries, Buddhism in two and Judaism in one.
Christianity is given preferential treatment in 28 nations, Buddhism in four and Islam in three.
Five nations favor multiple traditions: Eritrea, Indonesia, Lithuania, Serbia and Togo.
In these countries, more than one religion is “favored to a similar extent by the state,” Pew explained. “Typically, the government describes these religions as ‘traditional’ or part of the country’s historic culture. It may also provide these groups with legal or financial benefits, such as waiving the requirement to register as a religious group, providing funding or resources for religious education or providing government subsidies.”
The Middle East-North African (MENA) region has the highest percentage of nations with an official religion (Islam for nearly all of them), Europe has the highest percentage with a preferred or favored religion (Christianity for nearly all of them), and Central Asia has the highest percentage of nations deemed hostile to religion.
The full report is available here.