Christians in a Secular World

Christians in a Secular World: The Canadian Experience

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Christians in a Secular World
    Book Description:

    Bowen also assesses the role of religion in public education, the financial liability of Canada's churches for abuse suffered by Aboriginals in residential schools, the status of women clergy in Protestant churches, and the debates over abortion and gay and lesbian marriage. He takes issue with those who claim that on-going widespread involvement in various privatized forms of religiousness indicates that religion is changing rather than declining. The book concludes with an assessment of the major challenges that Christian churches in Canada confront today.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7194-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-2)
  3. 1 Secularization and Its Discontents: Theoretical and Historical Preliminaries
    (pp. 3-22)

    One central question shapes this book: Does religion really have any impact on the daily lives of people in our modern world? To refine the matter a little further, does religiousness or its lack appreciably affect the beliefs, values, and behaviours of Canadians? Are our overall levels of well-being and our basic outlook on life affected by how religious we are and by what kind of religion we embrace? Does religion have much influence on how we relate to each other in the intimate sphere of family and friends? Does how religious we are have any discernible impact on how...

  4. 2 Religious Demography of Canadians
    (pp. 23-65)

    How many Canadians today are still involved in a religious group or faith community? Are the religiously involved still shrinking in number, or are there signs of a resurgent spirituality that may save them from future extinction? What kinds of faith group now hold the allegiance of the religiously involved? Are there any religious bodies that are thriving and growing? Which ones are in most serious trouble? Does the amount and form of religious involvement vary across Canada’s diverse regions? What kinds of Canadians are most involved in church or faith groups? Is their social background or profile very different...

  5. 3 The Religious Individual: Well-Being and Personal Values
    (pp. 66-100)

    My sociological background inclines me to focus on how people think and behave in their relationships with others. This concern is pursued in all other chapters, but it seems appropriate to start any analysis of religiosity’s impact on Canadians by looking at whether the psychological state of Canadians is affected by how religious they are. Let me be clear that the answers to this question depends on what Canadians say is their psychological state – and not on some independent assessment of it. Besides the possibility that some may be lying for a host of obvious reasons, one could reasonably...

  6. 4 Intimate Relations: Sex, Marriage, Family, and Friends
    (pp. 101-139)

    Our intimate relationships involving sex, marriage, family, and friends play a major role in shaping our identity, our sense of well-being, and our character. The crucial importance of intimate relations is amply demonstrated by survey findings that Canadians place a heavier importance on family than any other priority in our lives. The intimate relationships we so prize are, nonetheless, going through an unprecedented time of stress, challenge, and change. Since the 1960s divorce rates have soared, common-law relationships have grown far more frequent, birth rates have fallen, single-parent families have become much more prevalent, and traditional gender relations have been...

  7. 5 Civic Sensibilities: Volunteering and Charitable Giving
    (pp. 140-181)

    Ever since de Tocqueville’s perceptive comments in the early nineteenth century on how America’s many voluntary associations were the bedrock for its democracy, scholars have emphasized the importance of local associations in sustaining the quality and vitality of the communities in which we reside.¹ Some have claimed that levels of civic involvement have been falling recently in the United States, though there is enough well argued dissention to make me think the answer is less than clear.² As for Canada, the evidence is too skimpy to permit a firm conclusion. In the first large and conclusive national survey, conducted in...

  8. 6 Public Life and Social Values
    (pp. 182-221)

    Preceding chapters have focused on the intimate areas of our lives, starting with the inner world of our psychological state and then extending outwards to our relationships with our families, our friends, and the local communities in which we reside. This chapter now turns to the public domain by exploring how religiosity and religious tradition affect the involvement of Canadians in politics, their voting habits, and their views on government and political protest. Of necessity, the survey data I have been using has caused me to focus on individual Canadians rather the wider institutions in which we all live out...

  9. 7 Christians and Their Churches: Beliefs, Attachments, and Controversies
    (pp. 222-271)

    This final substantive chapter turns inward to explore some of the major dynamics that shape the world of committed Christians. I now focus primarily on differences between the four major religious families of Quebec Catholics, Catholics in English-speaking Canada, Mainline Protestants, and Conservative Protestants. For obvious reasons, I am much less concerned with the Non Religious, though I will occasionally look at tables with breakdowns by religiosity to highlight how Seekers differ from the Committed. If Seekers, who profess to believe without belonging, really are the vanguard of a new form of religiousness, then we ought to know something about...

  10. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 272-288)

    Enlightenment convictions that religion is backward, repressive, and destined for extinction have greatly influenced both the secularization theory of academics and the mindset of our secular elites in government, education, and the media. Those convictions have been buttressed by the recent dramatic fall in church attendance that occurred after 1945 when Canada emerged from its colonial, rural cocoon to become a modern or postmodern society with an array of secular institutions to shape and guide it. So intimately linked were these developments that few in the intellectual establishment questioned the inevitability or the advisability of Christianity’s downward spiral. These assumptions...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 289-318)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-332)
  13. Index
    (pp. 333-337)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 338-338)