Different Gods

Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Different Gods
    Book Description:

    In recent decades the ebb and flow of immigration to Canada has changed significantly, with the majority of immigrants coming from non-European countries. A striking feature of this shift is that a significant proportion of immigrants are non-Christians newly immersed in a society entrenched in Christian ideals. In Different Gods, Raymond Breton looks at the significance of religious differences and what they mean for immigrants, non-immigrants, and Canada's future. Breton examines the evolution over time of the religious attitudes and behaviour of the new minorities and the challenges that their presence poses to the receiving society. The analysis consists of a review of recent research and formulates possible conclusions about the transformations that integration may bring about for both the minorities and the receiving society. An important analysis of immigration in an era of rapidly changing social values, Different Gods looks boldly into issues of collective identity and cultural accommodation.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8671-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    The integration of new immigrants has been a concern in Canada for a signiicant part of its history. At times, the focus was on settlement in various parts of the country and on economic development. During times of war, the preoccupation was political, driven by fears of disloyalty. The question of integration was seen largely as one of social and political control of certain minorities. In more recent times, with the decline of the birth rate, the emphasis has been on population growth.

    The cultural integration of immigrants has always been an important concern because immigrants often differ from the...

  5. PART ONE Introduction
    (pp. 15-16)

    Immigration is an experience of being uprooted from one social world and transplanted into another. It entails having to deal with uncertainty and the risk of not being able to rebuild a satisfactory life in the new socio-cultural environment. Many of the situations that immigrants face are quite different from those they learned to cope with in their country of origin. Besides meeting basic survival needs, they face a culture with unfamiliar conceptions of social, economic, political, and religious realities. They have to deal with various institutions that embody those conceptions in their rules and practices.

    The challenges of social...


    • 3 The Dissociation of Religion and Ethnicity
      (pp. 47-70)

      Analytically, religion and ethnicity are two distinct phenomena. “Religion involves some conception of a supernatural being, world, or force, and a notion that the supernatural is active, that events and conditions here on earth are inluenced by the supernatural (Stark and Bainbridge 1985, 5). Religions differ in the doctrines that spell out these conceptions of the supernatural and its relation to worldly events and conditions. Religious groups are formed on the basis of particular doctrines.

      A commitment to a particular religion and religious group can have several dimensions: belief or the acceptance of the doctrine; practice, which includes acts of...

    • 4 Changes in Religious Attitudes and Practices
      (pp. 71-94)

      In their attempts to it into the new social and institutional environment, immigrants and, especially, members of the second and subsequent generations tend to change in the ways they view and experience their religion. The role of religion in their lives evolves over time, an evolution that involves not only their personal lives and religious experience but also their relation with their community and the larger society.

      Several authors have raised the matter of the evolution of ethnicity in the lives of individuals. Raising the question of the evolution of ethnicity presupposes that it is not entirely a primordial or...

  7. PART THREE Introduction
    (pp. 95-96)

    Changing social circumstances and the evolution of individual members of the community have implications for the institutions of minority groups, including their churches and religious organizations. These institutions are confronted, not only with new demands on the part of their members, but also with the potential loss of members. As members become acculturated, lose luency in their heritage language, and have more choices in their social afiliations, the appeal of ethnic organizations, including churches and religious organizations, becomes gradually weaker, unless, as indicated above, the members experience hostility, economic discrimination, and social exclusion from the mainstream society. But if integration...

  8. PART FOUR Introduction
    (pp. 123-124)

    It was seen in previous chapters that minority religious groups adapt their institutions and practices to fit into the mainstream society. But the adaptation to the new cultural environment could also consist in seeking public afirmation of the “new” religion and attempting to obtain recognition of it by the institutions (for example, political, cultural, educational) of the larger society. These two modes of integration – adaptation and demands for recognition – are not incompatible. Adapting to a new environment does not necessarily imply a loss of distinctive identity.

    The recognition of the “new” religions and their incorporation into the institutional matrix of...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 167-184)

    The analysis presented in this book is based on the research literature on religious minorities and their integration into the larger society. It has dealt mostly with the Canadian and American literature, although some European research was included. Thus the patterns observed may be applicable to most Western countries and not only to Canada and the United States.

    In its analysis of newcomers and their descendants, the review focused on their religious identities, values, practices, and the evolution of the role that religion plays in their lives. It also dealt with minority religious institutions and how their role changes progressively...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 185-192)
  11. References
    (pp. 193-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-222)