The broader political significance of houses of worship: Theory and evidence from Indonesian mosques

Crawford School of Public Policy
A village mosque in Indonesia

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 06 December 2023




Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo (National University of Singapore)


Alex Gotts

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About the seminar

Studies have highlighted specific political significance of houses of worship. Houses of worship shape political participation, policy attitudes, and vote preferences of their congregations. I argue that houses of worship also have a broader political significance as they also influence the political attitudes and political behavior of the community in which they are located. I support this argument by analyzing locations of more than 290,000 mosques in Indonesia and national panel data of more than 16,000 Muslim respondents. Employing a difference-in-difference approach, I find that the presence of new mosques in a kecamatan (district) correlates with more exclusionary attitudes toward non-Muslims among respondents in the district. There is no evidence that more mosques promote stronger preferences for co-religionist and co-ethnic political candidates or higher trust toward fellow Muslims. Further analysis suggests that these effects are driven by the role of mosques as an information and communication channel, as opposed to their roles in enhancing religiosity or strengthening religious identity.

About the speaker

Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. He studies the causes and consequences of social and political inclusion and exclusion, focusing on ones driven by ethnoreligious sentiments and also, in more recent projects, socioeconomic inequality. He approaches this question both on the individual level, examining why individuals adopt or abandon exclusionary attitudes, and on the institutional level, examining why governments may enact discriminatory policies.

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