Last week Mitt Romney, in a speech on religion, said that “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.” Or, as I like to put it, “Religion iff Freedom.” This bothered me more than a little bit, until I realized that I could turn it into an empirical question. Or a least a question where I could make a plot! Below is a plot of importance of religion in people’s lives versus their political freedom for a 39 countries:
The views on religion were taken from a 2002 Pew survey and the political freedom index was taken from the 2007 Freedom House’s survey of political freedom. I used political freedom which according to Freedom House measures the ability of “people to participate freely in the political process, including through the right to vote, compete for public office, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate.”
Disclaimer: your mileage using this plot may vary, may get you into trouble in arguments, and may even result in you moving to Western Europe.