International Institute for Religious Freedom

The Tyranny of Religious Freedom Rankings

This report is a reprint from: Dennis P. Petri (2022) The Tyranny of Religious Freedom Rankings, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, 20:1, 82–88.


In this essay, I discuss three areas where I’ve identified problems with religious freedom datasets and how they are used by academics and policymakers. First, I discuss the implications of the problematic ways in which religious freedom rankings are being used. Second, I argue that religious freedom violations that can only be observed at the subnational level tend to be overlooked by religious freedom datasets. Finally, I stress the importance of understanding the multidimensionality of religious freedom to avoid oversimplifications of reality. I provide practical recommendations for the improvement of religious freedom datasets and their correct use by policymakers.