This has come up in a few threads so I thought I’d get a dedicated thread.
So, membership in the religious voter group is borked. It tends to bottom out to an absurd degree, even in countries that should have high membership eg. the United States. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
First, technology and tech policies should not reduce religious membership. Yes, less developed countries should be more religious and secularize as they develop. But right now the game is balanced around the first world, and that’s a bridge that can be crossed when first/third balance gets addressed later. But tech colleges and faster internet and a space program do not turn people into atheists.
So, what should affect religious membership?
- Immigration should increase it. This is a well known effect IRL.
- Religious education (or lack thereof) should raise or lower it. I would restrict the lowering to the actual atheist/anti-theist level and have secular be neutral.
- New policy: Religious exemptions. This policy represents granting exemptions from certain statutes if they conflict with a religion’s practices. For example, the United States allows Indian religious ceremonies to use peyote and bald eagle feathers, and allows Muslim women to veil in some areas where masking would otherwise be prohibited. Makes liberals, religious, and minorities happy, makes conservatives upset, raises religious membership and lowers ethnic tension. Might make sense for a modest increase in drug use as well.
- New policy: Restrict religious expression. This policy suppresses public displays of religious symbolism. Real world example is France’s secularism laws. Does pretty much the opposite of the above, including decreasing religious membership.
- Modified policy: State Church/State Church Funding. This policy represents direct state funding of religious institutions. Lots of European countries do this (sometimes even for multiple religions). Raises religious membership, unless it’s underfunded, in which case it actually lowers religious membership. Conservatives and to a lesser extent the religious like it, liberals dislike it. If you add situations about hate preachers or the like it should decrease those as well. Edit: Actually, maybe the effect on membership should scale based on the Con/Lib status of the country. So a conservative country will go to state church while a liberal one avoids it.
- This one I’m a little more dubious on, but maybe poverty should maybe increase religion; unadjusted by charity. (Which is to say, charity that reduces poverty also increases religious membership to compensate).
These effects do assume American style pluralism, where all religions tend to take an attack on one of them as an attack on all of them.