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Religion and Public Life in Canada

Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 368
  • Book Info
    Religion and Public Life in Canada
    Book Description:

    As this collection of scholarly case studies reveals, religion once played a major public role in all aspects of Canadian society, including politics, education, and culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7919-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Marguerite Van Die
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)
    Marguerite Van Die

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, as the state undergoes major restructuring, as market forces undermine national identities, and consumerism nudges faith away from tradition to private ʹspiritualities,ʹ this prescient observation by Grant, Canadaʹs foremost historian of Christianity, has been more than fulfilled. Not only has the image of a Christian Canada faded into history, but the very thought that religious institutions and beliefs might have a role to play in public life strikes many today as archaic, if not problematic. Yet, not so long ago, churches, religious societies, and people of faith were prominent in establishing such key...

  6. Part One. Reconstructing the Public:: The Impact of Nineteenth-Century Disestablishment

    • 1 Constructing Public Religions at Private Sites: The Anglican Church in the Shadow of Disestablishment
      (pp. 23-49)
      William Westfall

      In the last half of the nineteenth century the United Church of England and Ireland in the diocese of Toronto was transformed from an official (if incomplete) colonial establishment into a Victorian denomination. Confronted by a powerful array of political, economic, and social forces, the church surrendered the privileged position it had enjoyed within the state and set about the long and at times painful task of reconstructing itself at a private site. The political and institutional dimensions of this transformation have been examined in some detail. Historians, for example, have charted the tortuous path of church–state relations in...

    • 2 Evangelicals and Public Life in Southern New Brunswick, 1830–1880
      (pp. 50-68)
      T.W. Acheson

      Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the United States witnessed the disestablishment of all religious traditions and the development, especially in the northern part of the country, of an evangelical Protestant denominationalism that, in the words of José Casanova, became the culturally established American religion and ʹgained hegemonic control over the public discourse of American civil society.ʹ¹ That transition saw the rejection of early attempts to privatize religion and create a public order free from an overt religious influence. Evangelicals had as an agenda the creation of a Christian society through the reformation of life and habits. Their...

    • 3 Religion and Public Space in Protestant Toronto, 1880–1900
      (pp. 69-86)
      Brian Clarke

      ʹThe most conspicuous role of religion in nineteenth-century Ontario,ʹ John Webster Grant has argued, ʹwas to provide ... a set of discrete landmarksʹ that performed a variety of functions, not the least of which was to claim ʹspace and time for the spiritualʹ in society and to enable ʹpeople to give symbolic expression to their religious attitudes.ʹ These landmarks were many and varied but, as Grant has noted, religious parades and processions were a prominent feature of the cultural landscape.¹ Funeral processions, Orangemenʹs parades, the marches of fraternal societies to hear a sermon, the militia unitʹs parading to a church...

    • 4 Elaborating a Public Culture: The Catholic Church in Nineteenth-Century Quebec
      (pp. 87-106)
      Roberto Perin

      At the end of the Second World War French-speaking Quebeckers entered a new phase of their history. For a century, Catholicism as a cultural force and the church as a social institution had occupied a central place in their reality. Now this preeminence was being challenged on all sides. The first salvo came in 1948, when together with other artists Paul-Émile Borduas published the highly provocative manifesto,Refus global(Total Rejection). Soon mainstream analysts such as the editorial writer André Laurendeau and the youthful contributors to the magazineCité libretook up Borduasʹ call, although in more muted tones. Even...

  7. Part Two. Contested Spaces:: The Ambiguities of Religion in the Public Sphere

    • 5 The State, the Church, and Indian Residential Schools in Canada
      (pp. 109-129)
      J.R. Miller

      It was a big day for Grace Lavallé. She was selected to meet and be photographed with Louis St Laurent, Canadaʹs prime minister, when he visited her residential school at Lebret, Saskatchewan.¹ Such ceremonial visits were common at the Oblate residential school in the QuʹAppelle Valley, which was easily accessible by rail and road from Regina. On numerous occasions when officials visited residential schools, an elaborate display of amity and cooperation between church and government occurred, for such visits were as much about public relations and promotion of the interests of the Department of Indian Affairs as they were about...

    • 6 Missionaries, Scholars, and Diplomats: China Missions and Canadian Public Life
      (pp. 130-152)
      Alvyn Austin

      In 1989 the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) organized a blockbuster exhibit of its African collections, calledInto the Heart of Africa. The exhibit was a cutting-edge, ironic show with a suitably postmodern focus: the transformation of an artefact from ʹritual object to missionary souvenir and finally to museum specimen.ʹ¹ It invited viewers to analyse the museum itself as a ʹtext,ʹ a ʹfictionʹ created by the curator, the objects on display, and the visitor. ʹMuseums are often accused of being cultural charnel houses, full of the remains of dead civilizations,ʹ curator Jeanne Cannizzo wrote in the catalogue, and are often ʹcharged...

    • 7 Continental Divides: North American Civil War and Religion as at Least Three Stories
      (pp. 153-174)
      Mark Noll

      Unlike the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which begins by evoking ʹprinciples that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law,ʹ the United States Constitution of 1789 begins with assertions about ʹthe peopleʹ and contains almost no mention of religion. An even more striking contrast exists between the American Declaration of Independence of 4 July 1776 and Father Miguel HidalgoʹsGrito de Doloresof 16 September 1810, which, like the American Declaration, marked the beginning of armed rebellion against one of Europeʹs great imperial powers and, also like the American Declaration, gave to later countrymen the...

  8. Part Three. Claiming ʹTheir Proper Sphereʹ:: Women, Religion, and the State

    • 8 Evangelical Moral Reform: Women and the War against Tobacco, 1874–1900
      (pp. 177-195)
      Sharon Anne Cook

      The nineteenth century in North America was a period when ʹChristian rhetoric, values and morals ... permeated public discourse, shaping the focus, content and limits of imaginable popular debate.ʹ¹ Although curiously underresearched by historians, the waves of antitobacco ferment throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries bear the unmistakable imprint of evangelical ʹrhetoric, values and morals.ʹ The commanding authority of evangelical rhetoric reigned supreme for a relatively short period in the extended history of opposition to tobacco use. The underlying message, however, of the evangelical anti-tobacco analysis – that tobacco usage is fundamentally amoralissue – remains with...

    • 9 Religion and the Shaping of ʹPublic Womanʹ: A Post-Suffrage Case Study
      (pp. 196-216)
      Mary Kinnear

      Over the centuries religion has comforted and inspired as well as oppressed women.¹ While there is no dispute that it sustained women during the nineteenth-century womenʹs movement in Western society, religion seems to have disappeared from the historiography of twentieth-century women who entered public life by the thousands after enfranchisement.² Modernizing rhetoric has dominated historiography and has blocked out questions as to whether the lives of individuals have indeed become divorced from religion in its various forms. The received view has become that secularization is part of modernization, and that the power of the churches has evaporated as the state...

  9. Part Four. Religionʹs Redefinition of the Role of the State:: The Example of Prairie Populism

    • 10 Young Man Knowles: Christianity, Politics, and the ʹMaking of a Better Worldʹ
      (pp. 219-236)
      Eleanor J. Stebner

      Volumes could be written analysing the long public career and countless parliamentary actions of the Reverend Stanley Knowles. First elected as a Winnipeg city alderman in 1941, Knowles found his niche in 1942 when he became the member of Parliament for Winnipeg North Centre. Knowles represented this constituency for over thirty years, first as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and then as a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP).¹ In public life, Knowles quickly became known as the ʹconscience of Parliament and crusader for the rights of the working person.ʹ² Former colleagues have said of his...

    • 11 Premier E.C. Manning, Back to the Bible Hour, and Fundamentalism in Canada
      (pp. 237-254)
      David Marshall

      In 1960, one of the most perceptive observers of the Social Credit movement in Alberta, John Irving, wrote a retrospective article inSaturday Nightmagazine asserting that ʹthe challenge of Christianity suffuses the whole being of the Premier of Alberta.ʹ¹ Although the article referred to Ernest C. Manning, the leader of the Social Credit Party and premier of Alberta from 1943 to 1968, the same could be said for Manningʹs predecessor and mentor, William Aberhart. Both of these successful Alberta political leaders were fundamentalist lay preachers, driven by the call to spread the Christian gospel.² From 1935, when Aberhartʹs Social...

  10. Part Five. Matters of State:: Redefining the Sacred in Public Life, 1960–2000

    • 12 Catholicismʹs ʹQuiet Revolutionʹ: Maintenant and the New Public Catholicism in Quebec after 1960
      (pp. 257-274)
      David Seljak

      Much has been written about the public face of Catholicism in Quebec before the 1960s. Because the church dominated the fields of education, health care, and social services and because Catholicism served as the ʹcivil religionʹ of French Quebeckers, historians and social scientists have studied in detail the public functions of the church and its relations with the state from 1840 to 1960.¹ Studies of public Catholicism after the Quiet Revolution that resulted in some separation of church and state in the 1960s have been far fewer in number. Guided by theories of secularization, most scholars have assumed that public...

    • 13 The Christian Recessional in Ontarioʹs Public Schools
      (pp. 275-293)
      R.D. Gidney and W.P.J. Millar

      Did twentieth-century Ontario have a religion ʹby law established,ʹ a set of doctrines and beliefs that were not only widely shared by its people but incorporated into the legal framework of the state? In the schools it certainly did.* Here, Christianity was privileged by law, required to be taught ʹby precept and example,ʹ and integrated into the curriculum in both formal and informal ways. To the extent that it formed an integral part of the school system, moreover, the propagation of Christian belief was underwritten financially by the state itself. Was all of this little more than a lingering nineteenth-century...

    • 14 From a Private to a Public Religion: The History of the Public Service Christian Fellowship
      (pp. 294-310)
      Don Page

      In both Canada and the United States, the 1960s witnessed the beginning of an outpouring of conservative Christian concern about the loss of familiar cultural values in the face of a growing liberalism in social and economic values that was supported or at least tolerated by governments.² Sociologist José Casanova has characterized this period as one of ʹdeprivatizationʹ of religion as it took part in the process of contestation and legitimization of religiously inspired morality in civil society.³ In both nations, conservative Christians were increasingly dissatisfied with the political response to such issues as the sanctity of life, a perceived...

  11. Part Six. Bearing Witness:: The Voice of Religious Outsiders in Public Life

    • 15 ʹJustice and Only Justice Thou Shalt Pursueʹ: Considerations on the Social Voice of Canadaʹs Reform Rabbis
      (pp. 313-328)
      Gerald Tulchinsky

      Reform Judaismʹs message of social justice and other universalistic values received eloquent expression in the first half of the twentieth century in Canada, just as it did in Germany and the United States, where this movement was thriving. The command issued in Deuteronomy by Moses, ever mindful of his peopleʹs waywardness, to pursuetsedek, justice or righteousness, mandating the performance of good deeds such as charity, freedom for the oppressed, and decency towards all mankind, in shortmenschlichkeit(the Yiddish term meaning human decency), resonated through the careers of four notable Reform rabbis who served in Canadian congregations between 1900...

    • 16 Canadian Mennonites and a Widening World
      (pp. 329-345)
      Harold Jantz

      In 1943, the Reverend Jacob G. Thiessen, a minister of the Mennonite Brethren church from Vancouver, reported on his mission work to the city at a Brethren convention in Saskatchewan. Thiessen launched into a passionate appeal to church leaders, imploring them to keep as many young people on the farm and out of the city as possible.¹ Profoundly suspicious of urban life, he tried to the utmost of his Mennonite convictions to steer his church community away from what he saw as the urban dangers to their moral and spiritual welfare.

      In the years since Jacob Thiessen gave his report,...

    • 17 Sikhism and Secular Authority
      (pp. 346-362)
      Hugh Johnston

      In 1953 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that it was no business of a court to define religious practices or activities.¹ The court was endorsing the strict separation of church and state which Americans and most of Anglo Canada had long adopted as a principle of government. In neither Canada nor the United States, however, has it been possible to segregate religious and secular issues. Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovahʹs Witnesses and many others have all proven the difficulty. In recent years, Sikhs have added a new set of cases.

      When fighting for the right to wear their religious...

  12. Index
    (pp. 363-385)