Political Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 585–606 | Cite as

Does Tolerance of Religion in the Public Space Depend on the Salience of the Manifestation of Religious Group Membership?

  • Lene AarøeEmail author
Original Paper


The question of the role of Islam in the public space has become a new pivotal point in political disputes about civil liberties in Western Europe. This debate challenges the scholarly literature on tolerance by highlighting that our understanding of the situational factors shaping tolerance judgments remains limited. This study therefore investigates how the salience of the signaling of religious group membership influences religious tolerance. Based on a unique question-wording experiment embedded in an approximately nationally representative survey, I demonstrate that conspicuous manifestations of religious outgroup membership spark stronger intolerance than subtle manifestations and that anxiety mediates the effect of conspicuous manifestations of religious outgroup membership. Finally, I demonstrate that the effect of the salience of religious outgroup membership is strongest among those who are highly opposed to secularism. I conclude by discussing how these findings constitute an important extension of the extant work on tolerance and feed back into the discussion regarding the role of religion in the public space.


Tolerance Contextual factors Group cues Religion Signaling of outgroup membership Muslim Christian 



The author would like to thank Stanley Feldman, Christoffer Green-Petersen, Leonie Huddy, Michael Bang Petersen, Rune Slothuus, Paul Sniderman, Jens Peter Frølund Thomsen, the anonymous reviewers and participants in the Research Section on Danish Politics, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, for helpful advice. I acknowledge support from the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and GovernmentAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

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