International Religious Freedom Data, 2008
CitationHarris, J., Martin, R. R., & Finke, R. (2019, February 10). International Religious Freedom Data, 2008.
SummaryThis file contains measures from the ARDA's coding of the 2008 U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Reports. This coding produced data on 198 different countries and territories (see below for list of countries coded), but it excluded the United States. It also includes three indexes calculated from these data: Government Regulation of Religion Index (GRI), Modified Social Regulation of Religion Index (MSRI), and Government Favoritism of Religion Index (GFI) (see Grim & Finke, 2006 for information on the GRI and GFI).
The ARDA has added four additional variables to the original data set to enhance the users' experience on our site.
Data FileCases: 198
Weight Variable: None
Data CollectionSeptember 2009 - February 2010
Funded ByThe John Templeton Foundation
Collection ProceduresEach year (since 1999) the US State Department releases International Religious Freedom Reports on approximately 198 countries or territories. Based on the text in these reports, ARDA researchers systematically coded the measures included in this file. In previous waves of coding, these reports were assigned quantitative measures by using a coding instrument, essentially a survey questionnaire, under the direction of Brian Grim. Although the most immediate goal was to develop measures for religious regulation and favoritism, the questions included measures for specific acts of discrimination, prejudice, persecution, warfare, property rights, forced migration, and other acts that might (or might not) be related to the religious life of the country. For all variables, the coders were asked to make substantive observations of the qualitative data and to base their codes on empirical observations of actions or patterns of behavior that were documented in the reports.
Users should be aware of the following limitations: (1) All variables reflect information that was coded from the State Department Reports, and when no problem was reported, then the item was coded as "0." This means that "according to the Report, the item was not mentioned as a problem." Since the reports tend to simply not report a problem rather than say that "the problem is absent," we are not able to reasonably determine whether the problem was unobserved or absent. This means that the data reflect what was reported. (2) The focus of the reports is on limitations of religious freedom. Thus, we would argue that the most accurate measures are those which address the core issues related to the restriction (or regulation) of religious freedom and religious persecution. For example, government favoritism of religious education could arguably be harmless to religious freedom (helping the poor obtain skills) or harmful (training terrorists based on a religious ideology). Thus, since such issues tend to be reported when there is a problem, they cannot be used to form a full picture of the role of religion in education for a country. (3) The three different years of coding are not three discrete measures, but rather they represent trend information that continues to be reported for several years running, which makes sense, for instance, because cases of violence tend to have continuing effects.
Thus, it would not be advisable to treat the data as separate measures from which time lines are developed since it is possible that later years report newly arising problems in addition to old ones. (4) The aggregate dataset for the three years of coding contains the mean score of each ordinal variable and the mode score for categorical variables across the three years. We suggest that those using the data for social scientific modeling and analysis use the aggregate data set, which has the benefit of greater variation in the variables and less error, since random errors from one year will be attenuated in the aggregate data.
For a more detailed description of the coding procedures, see Grim and Finke (2006).
Sampling ProceduresPrimary data come from the coding of the 198 countries covered by the US State Department International Religious Freedom Reports.
Principal InvestigatorsThe Association of Religion Data Archives
Jaime Harris, Project Manager for International Data
Robert R. Martin, Research Associate
Roger Finke, Director
Contact for more information:
The Association of Religion Data Archives,
List of Countries and Territories Included in this Data FileAfghanistan
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Republic of
Israeli Occupied Territories (Palestine)
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
Korea, Republic of
Micronesia, Federated States of
Papua New Guinea
Sao Tome and Principe
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
United Arab Emirates
Note on the Modified Social Regulation of Religion Index (MSRI)The Social Regulation of Religion Index (SRI) has been altered in this wave of coding. The Modified Social Regulation of Religion Index (MSRI) is calculated by (a) transforming a country's value on each of the five variables listed below so that they have ranges from 0 to 1, (b) taking the sum of the five transformed values and (c) multiplying the sum by 2. Countries may have MSRI values between 0 and 10.
Variables comprising the Modified Social Regulation of Religion Index (MSRI):
OTHREL08: Societal attitudes toward other or nontraditional religions are reported to be . . .
PROSE208: According to the Report, do traditional attitudes and/or edits of the clerical establishment strongly discourage proselytizing, that is, trying to win converts?
ESTAB08: According to the Report, do established or existing religions try to shut out new religions in any way?
INTOLE08: According to the Report, are citizens intolerant of "nontraditional" faiths, that is, groups they perceive as new religions?
NONTRA08: How does the Report characterize citizens' receptivity to proselytizing by nontraditional faiths or faiths other than their own?
(See variables MSRIA_08 through MSRIE_08 to see how the variables above were re-scaled to calculate the MSRI.)
See Grim & Finke, 2006 for a detailed description of the original Social Regulation of Religion Index (SRI).