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Friday, May 16, 2014

Religion and Transitional Justice in Postcommunist Countries

Okay. Not the most scintillating title, but according to a study by Santa Clara University professor Peter Rožič published in the Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies ("Religion Matters: Quantifying the Impact of Religious Legacies on Post-Communist Transitional Justice"), postcommunist countries with Protestant and Catholic heritages are more likely to enact policies and practices of transitional justice in the move to democracy than those nations with Islamic and Eastern Orthodox backgrounds. 

Rožič analyzed 34 postcommunist countries and and their policies and laws limiting the political participation of former authoritarian leaders and other officials (known as lustration) and found that countries with Protestant and Catholic histories not only lead in enacting such laws of transitional justice but have on average also increased the intensity of their lustration practices. The opposite turned out to be true in countries with mainly Muslim and Eastern Orthodox legacies. All of this is captured in the graph above, which plots the lustration index over the last 20 years, broken into countries with Muslim, Orthodox, or Catholic/Protestant heritages.

In case you're wondering, Rožič took into account (i.e., he controlled for) other factors that could lead to such differing outcomes, such as the type, duration, and the degree of bureaucratization of the communist regimes. He ended up concluding that the church-state postures of these various traditions and the degree of actual complicity between religious officials with communist regimes might be the ultimate factors behind his findings.

Note: This summary of Rožič's article is adapted from the May 2014 issue of Religion Watch (p. 6).

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