A 'Nordic Religious Freedom Paradox'?

Freedom of Religion and Belief as Constructed by Two Global Datasets





Freedom of religion or belief, Pew Research, Government restrictions, Religious discrimination, Religious diversity


Major research initiatives like the Religion and Politics project (RAS) lead by Jonathan Fox and the Pew Research Institute’s series on Government Restrictions have, in recent years, produced major data sets measuring the state of religious regulation and restrictions globally. These data sets, however, challenge the image of the Nordic countries as frontrunners in regard to freedom of religion or belief. Some scholars have however suggested the existence of the socalled Nordic the Nordic Human Rights Paradox, i.e. that while promoting humans rights globally, the implementation of human rights at home is not very convincing. This paper presents the two data sets and analyses the specific codings for the Nordic countries. The argument presented is that while the data in some cases points to the existence of a Nordic Human Rights Paradox in relation to freedom of religion and belief, there are also discrepancies between the way freedom of religion and belief has been operationalized by the two projects and the realities of religious lives in the Nordic countries.    

Author Biography

Lene Kühle, Aarhus University

is Professor (with special responsibilities) in the Sociology of Religion in School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University, Denmark.




How to Cite

Kühle, L. (2022). A ’Nordic Religious Freedom Paradox’? : Freedom of Religion and Belief as Constructed by Two Global Datasets . Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 58(2), 239–265. https://doi.org/10.33356/temenos.113467