Religious Diversity and Religious Tolerance

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This article seeks to understand the impact of religious diversity on religious tolerance in developing countries and draws lessons from the case of Nigeria. Religious diversity has appeared to prompt religious intolerance in Nigeria when we view the country from a distance. However, this article reveals important subnational variation. Using original survey data collected in 2006, I compare the impact of religious observance on respect for religious freedom across four settings within Nigeria and find religious observance was having, at the time of the survey, a more positive impact on respect for religious freedom in the most religiously diverse and integrated of the four settings. In-depth interviews indicate that Christian and Muslim religious leaders more openly encouraged religious tolerance in religiously diverse and integrated settings than in religiously homogenous settings. Substantively, this study suggests that religious segregation rather than religious diversity has inhibited religious tolerance in Nigeria and provides a baseline for assessing how changes in religious diversity and sociopolitical conditions across time affect the likelihood that Christianity and Islam are applied in ways that promote or impede tolerance. Methodologically, it reveals the importance of examining individual-level data and subnational variation when attempting to understand the political impact of religion in any country.


“Religious Diversity and Religious Tolerance: Evidence from Nigeria,” Journal of Conflict Resolution (OnLine First, September 23, 2014) 


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