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Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity

Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity: Canada Between Europe and the USA

David Lyon
Marguerite Van Die
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 352
  • Book Info
    Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity
    Book Description:

    The contributors consider how Canada?s religious experience is distinctive in the modern world, somewhere between the largely secularized Europe and the relatively religious United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7930-6
    Subjects: Religion

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)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    For many decades the concepts of ʹchurch, state, and modernity,ʹ have helped historians and sociologists to come to grips with what is going on in the realm of ʹreligion and societyʹ in the twentieth century. ʹChurchʹ refers to religious organizations whose presence and significance were taken for granted in Canada until well after the 1960s. ʹStateʹ is a shorthand for government activities that were assumed to be sovereign and self-contained in a geographical territory. And ʹmodernity,ʹ the most recent addition, speaks of that cluster of social and cultural phenomena associated with liberal democracy, industrial capitalism, high technology, spreading urbanism, and...


    • chapter one Canada in Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 23-33)

      Clearly, someone from outside Canada asked to comment on religion inside Canada has no new data to offer not already better known to Canadian scholars. The only tactic available to the outsider is a novel theoretical perspective or else comparisons with other countries. My particular tactic depends on those comparisons in particular as they are informed by the perspective of myA General Theory of Secularization, published just two decades ago.

      Most of my comparisons will turn on about a dozen key questions, but there is a prior question to be asked about which countries offer the most fruitful comparisons....

    • chapter two Canadian Religion: Heritage and Project
      (pp. 34-51)

      The following investigation attempts to exploit the currentfin de siècleor millennial mood by juxtaposing past and present in an effort to ponder the future. In seeking to adjust the ʹhorizon of expectationʹ (Gadamer 1985, 269; Toulmin 1990, 1–2) surrounding contemporary Canadian religion it employs sociological and historical insights in order to examine the intricate religious encounter with modernity and the ways in which this encounter interweaves social-scientific and popular knowledge. My impressionistic assessment of the contemporary mood of mainstream religion triggers a journey into thepastand provokes meditation on the theme of religious memory while simultaneously...

    • chapter three Individualism Religious and Modern: Continuities and Discontinuities
      (pp. 52-66)

      All European and North American empirical studies of contemporary forms of religiosity show that the religious landscape of Western societies is characterized by an irresistible movement towards individualization and subjectivization of belief and practice. This widespread finding amply explains why the question of individualism has become a recurrent theme of all sociological reflection on religious modernity. It would be quite misleading, however, to conclude that religious individualism is a novel reality associated only with modernity. It would be more accurate to speak of religious individualization as originating in the differentiation between two forms: ritual religion (which requires of the faithful...


    • chapter four Church and State in Institutional Flux: Canada and the United States
      (pp. 69-89)

      In Canada, no less than in the United States, they do things a bit differently out west. Consider Glen Clark, the former premier of British Columbia. Although in a bygone era a student in Roman Catholic schools, Premier Clark claimed to sustain no strong religious convictions of his own. Nevertheless, extracurricular reading on the implications of religious values for public policy (Wallis 1994) piqued Clarkʹs interest. To learn more, the premier in 1998 issued invitations to some three dozen leaders of religious organizations from around the province to join him in Vancouver for two hours of dialogue behind closed doors....

    • chapter five Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution: Religion, Human Rights, and Government Authority in the Making of the 1982 Constitution
      (pp. 90-112)

      In the settlement of 1982, which saw the success of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeauʹs program to patriate the Canadian Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thereby bringing to an end the anomaly of Britainʹs long-term, reluctant custody of the British North America (BNA) Act, the Charter contained the brief confessional preamble, ʹWhereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.ʹ By including this divine referent, Canada joined a group of some forty other states whose constitutions make an explicit acknowledgment of God, Allah, or the Creator (ʹConstitution Finderʹ 1998).¹ Moreover,...

    • chapter six Bearing Witness: Christian Groups Engage Canadian Politics since the 1960s
      (pp. 113-128)

      ʹThe government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.ʹ Former federal Justice Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau thus notoriously sought to justify sweeping changes in the Criminal Code of Canada in 1968 that made divorce easier for unhappy couples and homosexual activity legal for certain happy ones. Trudeau was obviously wrong about this, of course, and for at least two reasons. First, governments affect bedroom conduct by staying out of them just as much as by going in. The incidence of rape, child molestation, bestiality, and other unusual sexual activities likely would change if governments resolutely turned a blind...


    • chapter seven Resisting the ʹNo Manʹs Landʹ of Private Religion: The Catholic Church and Public Politics in Quebec
      (pp. 131-148)

      In his bookPublic Religions in the Modern World(1994), José Casanova argues that, contrary to the modelsdescribedby dominant modernization theories and programsprescribedby liberal political theories, there are new forms of participation in public debates by religious communities which do not represent a regression to premodern religious practices or a rejection of modern values.Modernpublic religions do not violate the consciences of individuals, the autonomy of political society and the state, or the democratic norms of pluralism and liberty. Instead, they protect those very values when they participate as actors in important ethical debates at...

    • chapter eight Catholicism and Secularization in Quebec
      (pp. 149-165)

      In the past many sociologists accepted the theory of secularization, according to which the spread of modernity would inevitably lead to the waning of religion. This theory was verified in several European societies, yet it never fitted the evidence gathered in the United States where religion continued to thrive. Whether the more recent spread of industrialization in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America will lead to the decline of religion is not at all certain. To the surprise of sociologists, religion has again, for better and for worse, become a social force in several parts of the world. In...

    • chapter nine Civil Religion and the Problem of National Unity: The 1995 Quebec Referendum Crisis
      (pp. 166-186)

      It has often been said that, as a collectivity, Canadians have never been able to take their society for granted, and that, indeed, the primary characteristic of Canadian society has been the quest for survival. Repeated efforts have been made to enhance or develop consensus and manage conflict in the name of nation-building. Virtually in defiance of geography and diversity, the creation of a sense of society has been an arduous task in Canada (Bell 1992). Whether Canadian society is one nation (represented by Anglo-conformity), two nations (the French and English as the founding groups), three nations (adding First Nations),...


    • chapter ten Modern Forms of the Religious Life: Denomination, Church, and Invisible Religion in Canada, the United States, and Europe
      (pp. 189-210)

      One of the more constant and perplexing questions Canadians ask themselves is about Canadian ʹnational identity.ʹ What is distinctive about ʹusʹ? Part, but only part, of the inability to give a widely acceptable answer to this question is that a sizeable number of Canadians, in particular those who identify themselves as Québécois, already have a very clear idea of who ʹweʹ are, but this collectivity specifically excludes three-quarters of those who live in Canada. Irrespective of whether one views Quebec nationalism as symptom or cause, its importance for the issue of Canadian identity is that it provides such an obvious...

    • chapter eleven ʹFor by Him All Things Were Created ... Visible and Invisibleʹ: Sketching the Contours of Public and Private Religion in North America
      (pp. 211-227)

      Invisible religion.¹ Privatized faith. Believers not belongers. These phrases all describe religious belief that is more individual than institutional, more private than public. This chapter reports on a preliminary probe of the landscape of both private and public religious faith in North America and describes a cluster analysis-based segmentation of North Americans. This classification scheme arrays people into six distinct families based on their level of beliefs, behaviours, and the degree of privatization of faith.

      Numerous sociological and theological paradigms clash over the cause and significance of public and private religion. These skirmishes all too often take the form of...

    • chapter twelve A Generic Evangelicalism? Comparing Evangelical Subcultures in Canada and the United States
      (pp. 228-246)

      Possibly the most significant change in North American religion in the past few decades has been the resurgence of evangelicalism. With the decline of mainline Protestantism in both Canada and the United States, conservative Protestants have outgrown mainline Protestantism in America, and in both countries, conservative Protestant churches have more people in the pews on any given Sunday than mainline Protestant churches (Motz 1990; Bibby 1993; Kellstedt and Green 1993). Presently, evangelicals (as defined below) account for roughly one-quarter of the American population and about 10 per cent of the Canadian population (Kellstedt et al. 1993; Angus Reid 1996b). Their...


    • chapter thirteen The Steeple or the Shelter? Family Violence and Church-and-State Relations in Contemporary Canada
      (pp. 249-262)

      Wife abuse is a prevalent social phenomenon. From the rugged shores of Newfoundland to the pristine British Columbia coastline, Canadian women experience violence at the hands of the men who purport to love them. While the nature and frequency of the violence differ, the journey towards health and wholeness is always long and arduous. The question of whether religion augments or thwarts the healing process of abuse victims has been a central theme in my research for many years. The story of what happens when an abused religious woman seeks solace and support from her faith community is multifaceted, and...

    • chapter fourteen The Politics of the Body in Canada and the United States
      (pp. 263-282)

      In recent years a number of issues, controversies, and popular discourses bearing on the control, use, display, and maintenance of the body have entered public arenas. In some cases matters pertaining to the body sustain social continuity by intensifying the link between traditional values and practices (Ellison and Sherkat 1993). In other cases they signal new social directions by challenging established institutions (Schneirov and Geczik 1997). Occasionally body-related matters are implicated in conflicts in the global system of action.¹

      Where the body is now a subject of public attention and controversy especially in the West, it has also become an...

    • chapter fifteen Consumers and Citizens: Religion, Identity, and Politics in Canada and the United States
      (pp. 283-302)

      Borders make for differences, even if they signify only ʹimagined communitiesʹ (Anderson 1983). According to a 1996Macleanʹsreport, 19 per cent of Canadians say ʹreligion is important to their political thinking,ʹ compared with 41 per cent of Americans (Corelli 1996, 40). Recent elections confirm this difference. News stories rarely note the religious beliefs of Canadian politicians, and religious organizations seldom have a significant impact on Canadian elections. For example, the Reform partyʹs Preston Manning downplays his evangelical faith. By contrast, in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States, Jimmy Carterʹs ʹborn-againʹ testimony, Ronald Reaganʹs endorsement of Southern evangelicals,...

  11. References
    (pp. 303-338)
  12. Index
    (pp. 339-353)