Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Robert Brown

Second Advisor

William Schenck

Third Advisor

Emily Fransee

Relational Format



This thesis explores the impact of citizens’ attitudes toward religious freedom on their attitudes toward four socio-political issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, importance of Christianity to nationality and whether Islam is viewed as incompatible with nationality in a Western European context. I focused specifically on France, Germany and the UK as these countries represent three distinct approaches to the separation of religion and government. I aim to isolate and investigate the impact of the concept of laïcité, the French interpretation of secularism, and see if laïcité and attitudes toward laïcité impact citizens’ attitudes differently toward socio-political issues. My research found that laïcité does have a differential impact on attitudes toward abortion, importance of Christianity, and compatibility of Islam. The effect on same-sex marriage was not statistically different in France relative to Germany and the UK. Overall, this research shows that laïcité does have a different impact on attitudes in France with respect to three socio-political issues and aims to further investigate the notion of Islam’s compatibility, or incompatibility in Western European countries with freedom of religion for all citizens.



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