POLS Seminar: Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences




Faith and Friendship: Religiously Homogeneous Friendships and Interfaith Relations in Muslim-Majority Countries


Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo

Postdoctoral Fellow

Center for the Study of Religion and

Society University of Notre Dame


OCTOBER 23,2019  15:15-16:45

FASS 2054


Abstract: Studies have documented relatively more negative attitudes and a higher level of social hostilities toward religious minorities in Muslim than in non-Muslim countries. I seek to explain what contributes to these poor interfaith relations. Diverging from the mainstream approaches that focus on cultural, institutional, or socioeconomic explanations, I argue that the poorer interfaith relations in Muslim countries are driven by high levels of religious bonding or religiously homogeneous friendships among Muslims in these countries.

I present two types of evidence to support this claim: comparative and behavioral/experimental. The comparative evidence comes from an analysis of a global survey of more than 17,000 Muslim respondents in 17 Muslim countries. I show that religious bonding is related to more negative attitudes toward religious minorities and that religious bonding is indeed higher among Muslims in Muslim countries than among Catholics in Catholic-majority Latin American countries.

The behavioral/experimental evidence is based on an original survey conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia. Complementing the comparative evidence that highlights the effects of religious bonding on interfaith attitudes, I show that religious bonding also affects voting behavior of Muslim voters in a religiously charged election. Employing an experimental design, I also show that religious bridging (Muslims’ ties with non-Muslims) has a positive effect on Jakartan Muslims’ tolerance toward non-Muslims. I highlight the implications of these findings and discuss avenues for future research.