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
“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.