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Religion in the Public Sphere

Religion in the Public Sphere: Canadian Case Studies

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Religion in the Public Sphere
    Book Description:

    With this edited collection, Solange Lefebvre and Lori G. Beaman bring together a series of case studies of religious groups and practices from all across Canada that re-examine and question the classic distinction between the public and private spheres.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1735-3
    Subjects: Law, Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributing Authors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Religion and the Public Sphere
    (pp. 3-22)

    Religion is frequently referenced in relation to its presence or absence from the public sphere, or its relegation to the private sphere.¹ In part, the often easy use of the terms “public” and “private” in relation to religion inspired the creation of this volume. Despite the fact that private and public are regularly invoked in discussions about religion, there is little systematic reflection on the meaning of these terms, specifically on the boundaries between them or what, exactly, we mean when we use them. For instance, religion is said to be “private,” or “religion in the public sphere” is identified...

  6. Part I: The Public/Private Divide

    • 1 Canadian Social Imaginaries: Re-examining Religion and Secularization
      (pp. 25-43)

      I propose to use the notion of social imaginary as developed by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Charles Taylor (2004, 2007) as a conceptual framework within which to reconsider the secularization debate as it applies to Canada. Underlying the reconsideration is the question, Why has secularization in Canada unfolded neither in the European versions nor in those of its neighbour to the south, the United States? As David Martin (2005) and José Casanova (2006) have compellingly shown, modernity has spawned many versions of modernization and its offspring, secularization. Canada’s story is one among many.

      Modernization in Canada is framed first within...

    • 2 Between the Public and the Private: Governing Religious Expression
      (pp. 44-65)

      Debates about the public presence of religion have been intense and varied of late, not only in Canada, but in many Western democracies. In Switzerland, for example, twenty-two of twenty-six cantons voted to ban the building of new minarets;¹ in Italy the presence of the crucifix in classrooms preoccupied not only the Italian courts, but subsequently the European Court of Human Rights;² in England the wearing of a cross in the workplace was held to be unnecessary to the Christian faith and an employer’s request that it be removed was deemed reasonable;³ and in France, of course, head coverings continue...

    • 3 Regional Differences and Continuities at the Intersection of Culture and Religion: A Case Study of Immigrant and Second-Generation Young Adults in Canada
      (pp. 66-94)

      In much of the public discourse in Canada today, religious and cultural diversity appear in an ambiguous light. On the one hand, one hears that they are a great asset to this country; that the future prosperity of Canada is dependent on the continued arrival of immigrants from all over the world who are generating these diversities; and, moreover, that such diversity is also a question of Canadian identity (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2011; Dib, Donaldson, and Turcotte 2009; Kymlicka 2010). We are said to be a society characterized by this diversity, whether we call that character multicultural or intercultural...

  7. Part II: Private Life

    • 4 Maintaining and Nurturing an Islamic Identity in Canada – Online and Offline
      (pp. 97-120)

      As Islam becomes increasingly transnational, the “authoritative use of the symbolic language of Islam” has become fragmented and contested (Eickelman and Anderson 2003, 1). Although many Muslims explain their lives through the normative language of Islam, we know that being Muslim does not have the same meaning for all followers of the faith. Muslim identity politics take on many forms, including class interests, nationalism, and family networks; furthermore, these identity formations differ vastly between Muslim-majority states and populations in which Muslims form a minority.

      This chapter examines how second-generation Canadian Muslims perceive Islam, live their faith, and how they develop...

    • 5 Maghrebi Jewish Migrations and Religious Marriage in Paris and Montréal, 1954–1980
      (pp. 121-148)

      Responding to Nancy Green’s invitation that migratory trajectories should be examined from a comparative perspective, this study examines, in both space and time, the religious marital practices among Sephardic Jews settled in Paris and Montréal who, in the post-colonial context, had been leaving their countries of birth (Green 2002, 23).¹ The statistical study of these religious marriages not only analyses relocation patterns, but also more broadly, reveals the repercussions of these migrations among host communities.² It demonstrates that both migrants and members of host social structures underwent wide-reaching cultural reconfiguration.

      The early post-colonial period saw the almost complete disappearance of...

    • 6 Talking about Domestic Violence and Communities of Faith in the Public Sphere: Celebrations and Challenges
      (pp. 149-170)

      Many religious men, women, teens, and children look to their faith community for guidance and practical assistance in the aftermath of domestic violence.¹ This is true in the Canadian context, where my research began over twenty years ago, but it is also the case in the United States, and in other countries around the world – in cultures and places where my expanding research agenda has taken me. Whether someone is helped first by their congregation (through a pastor, priest, or other religious leader) or a community-based agency (through a social worker, domestic violence advocate, or legal counsel), those who respond...

  8. Part III: The Public/Private Continuum

    • 7 Beyond Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: A Philosophy of Diversity
      (pp. 173-200)

      The private sector has not received enough attention in the debate on reasonable accommodations in Canada.¹ This circumstance represents quite a paradox, since the 1985 Canadian case in which the concept of “reasonable accommodations” was first applied to religion precisely concerned the private sector (Ontario Human Rights Commission and O’Malley v. Simpsons-Sears Ltd.). A woman working for a big department store, having converted to the Adventist Church, complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission that her employer refused to arrange a work schedule allowing her to obey the Adventist Church’s strict observance of the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown...

    • 8 Religion and the Incorporation of Haitian Migrants in Montréal
      (pp. 201-217)

      In November 2009, I attended Mass at Notre-Dame d’Haïti Catholic Mission in Montréal, where I had conducted fieldwork several years prior.¹ Drawing on the Gospel readings from Mass that day,² the priest exhorted the Haitian faithful in attendance to respond to God’s call to give of themselves and to trust that God will give back even more. He further warned them to be sure not to treat others like dogs just because they are poor. For this community of mostly poor Haitian immigrants whose daily needs for food, housing, and work may go unmet, this simple message carries a profound...

    • 9 The Intersection of Religious Identity and Visible Minority Status: The Case of Sikh Youth in British Columbia
      (pp. 218-236)

      British Columbia has witnessed a tremendous growth in religious and ethnic diversity, especially after Canada made changes to its immigration law in 1967 and instituted the Multiculturalism Policy in 1971.¹ Given British Columbia’s close proximity to Asia, the province has drawn and continues to draw in many Asians. The Chinese currently comprise the largest visible minority group in British Columbia. However, since many members of the Chinese community practise the Christian faith, the Sikh community has emerged as the largest non-Christian group in the BC Lower Mainland (Statistics Canada 2005).

      Sikhs follow a 500-year-old tradition that originated in the geographic...

    • 10 Curricular Heresy: Theological Religious Studies and the Assessment of Religious Pluralism in Canada
      (pp. 237-254)

      In her recent bookNomad, Ayan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born writer and former Dutch parliamentarian, states with unambiguous certitude that “All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not” (Hirsi Ali 2010, 212). Such expressions of liberal individualism, of which this is but one instance, are in the ascendant. Like Hirsi Ali, many in the West have called multiculturalism into question in recent years. Implied in this renewed scepticism is a fear of the equality of religions that is part of a multicultural ethos. But, assessing the virtues and vices of religions is a very treacherous exercise,...

  9. Part IV: Public Life

    • 11 Conservative Christianity, Anti-statism, and Alberta’s Public Sphere: The Curious Case of Bill 44
      (pp. 257-274)

      It is well known that Alberta has a unique political history among Canadian provinces. Not only have consecutive conservative political parties ruled the province nearly uncontested since 1935, thirty-three of those years included the premiership of Social Creditors William “Bible Bill” Aberhart (1935–43) and Ernest Manning (1943–68), two devout fundamentalist Christians who moonlighted as the hosts of a religious radio broadcast that drew more than 300,000 listeners at its height (Laycock 1990, 216). That such publically devout men were able to hold political power in Alberta for such a long period obviously tells us something about the importance...

    • 12 The “Naked Face” of Secular Exclusion: Bill 94 and the Privatization of Belief
      (pp. 275-292)

      In the West and in several Middle Eastern countries, states are actively and legally intervening to regulate Muslim women’s liberty to wear the niqab, a full veil covering the face and the body.¹ Despite the fact that the actual number of women choosing the niqab is often quite low – Adams (2007) estimates the actual number in Québec to be lower than 100 (Adams 2007, 93) – public reactions to this piece of clothing tend to be vigorous and passionate (Cody 2010). Québec is no exception. Recently, with the drafting of Bill 94 (An Act to establish guidelines governing accommodation requests within...

    • 13 Religion and the Socio-economic Integration of Immigrants across Canada
      (pp. 293-312)

      The reappearance of religion in the public sphere of Western societies is to a large extent related to new forms of religious diversity induced by international migration (for an overview see Bramadat and Koenig 2009). In Canada, new immigration inflows since the 1960s have significantly altered religious demographics with a growing number of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other non-Christian religious groups appearing on the scene (Beaman and Beyer 2008; Kelley and Trebilcock 1998). As other chapters in this volume forcefully show, this increased religious diversity has prompted policymakers, social activists, and academics to retool the idea of multiculturalism, to rethink...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 313-316)

    This volume has demonstrated the degree to which in-depth case studies shed light on the complex relationships between religion and the public and private spheres. As the discussions here have demonstrated, religion blurs the boundaries between the public and the private, and presses us to think in new ways about what these categories mean, the work they do, and the power relations embedded in them. Accordingly, the reflections contained in this book have revealed the interrelationship between a range of core concepts: identities, ethnicities, values, multiculturalism and interculturalism, new media, law, youth and society, family, domestic violence, immigration, the voluntary...

  11. Index
    (pp. 317-332)