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Religion and Multiculturalism in Canada La religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada


The Challenge of Religious Intolerance and Discrimination ... mainstream religious identities, such as Wicca and other New Religious Movements. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Religion and Multiculturalism in Canada La religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada

Religion and Multiculturalism in CanadaLa
religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada
  • The Challenge of Religious Intolerance and
  • Le défi posé par lintolérance religieuse et la

Religion and Multiculturalism in Canada / La
religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada
  • David Seljak, Department of Religious Studies
  • St. Jeromes University in the University of
  • With
  • Joanne Benham Rennick, University of Waterloo
  • Andréa Schmidt, independent researcher, Toronto
  • Kathryn Da Silva, University of Ottawa
  • Paul Bramadat, University of Winnipeg

General conclusions
  • Religious intolerance and discrimination pose
    significant barriers to achieving the goals of
  • The nature of religious intolerance and
    discrimination in Canada is changing.
  • The old intolerance and discrimination have not
    been sufficiently addressed.

General conclusions
  • An emerging closed secularism has the potential
    to promote intolerance and discrimination.
  • Transnational issues threaten to increase
    religious intolerance and discrimination in
  • A positive, dynamic effort to promote religious
    freedom and tolerance will make Canada a more
    just, participatory and multicultural society.

Religious intolerance and discrimination
  • Intolerance attitudes, values and beliefs
  • Discrimination actions, practices, and
  • Structural discrimination or religious
  • Often they go together, but often they do not.
    For example, Ontarios decision not to fund
    religiously based independent schools
    discriminates against non-Catholics but was made
    in the absence of malice.

Religion race ethnicity
  • Difficult to isolate religion from race and
  • Examples of Jews and Sikhs.
  • Difficult to isolate causes of intolerance and
  • Anti-Semitism, like Islamophobia, can be a toxic
    cocktail of religious chauvinism, racism, ethnic
    prejudice, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant

Religious intolerance and discrimination as
barriers to the goals of the Multiculturalism
  • Social justice
  • Inclusion and participation
  • Respect for cultural diversity

Sources of religious intolerance and
discrimination in Canada
  • Structural issues that demand long-term
  • Secularization the solution that has become part
    of the problem
  • Globalization and religious intolerance and
    discrimination in Canada
  • Cultural sources of intolerance and

Structural issues that demand long-term solutions
  • 1. Animosity that results from the social
    stratification based on religion
  • 2. Intolerance and discrimination against
    minority religious traditions that arises from
    the history of Christian privilege
  • 3. Disrespect for the traditional spiritual
    practices and beliefs of Canadas Aboriginal

Secularization the solution that has become part
of the problem
  • 4. A closed or ideological secularism with its
    assumption that all religions are essentially
    unenlightened, tribal, anti-egalitarian, and
    potentially violent.
  • Anti-immigrant hostility is frequently fueled by
    feeling that they are not like us
  • Earlier it mean that they were not Christian
    like us. Now it often means that they are not
    secular that is enlightened, democratic,
    liberal, rational, etc. like us

Globalization and religious intolerance and
discrimination in Canada
  • 5. Transnational ethnic, political, and religious
    (and ethno-politico-religious) conflicts are now
    played out on Canadian soil.

Cultural sources of intolerance and discrimination
  • 6. Mistrust and hostility towards so-called New
    Religious Movements fostered by the anti-cult
    movement and the media
  • 7. Explicit or implicit chauvinism in the
    theology, ethics, or practices of religious
  • 8. Religious intolerance and discrimination that
    are part of a wider ideology of racism and

Challenge of religious intolerance and
discrimination to multiculturalism
  • Ethnoracial diversity may adversely affect a
    societys cohesiveness in two ways. When
    diversity results in inequality, it may undermine
    the sense of fairness and inclusion among
    individuals and groups. Racial diversity may also
    weaken the commonality of values, commitments and
    social relations among individuals and groups,
    thereby affecting their capacity to cooperate in
    the pursuit of common objectives. Each dimension
    is important in its own right, and they may have
    a combined effect on social cohesion.
  • Jeffrey G. Reitz and Rupa Banerjee, "Racial
    Inequality, Social Cohesion, and Policy Issues in
    Canada," in Belonging, Diversity, Recognition and
    Shared Citizenship in Canada, ed. Thomas J.
    Courchene, Keith Banting, and Wanda Wuttune
    (Montreal Institute of Research on Public
    Policy, 2007), 2.
  • In the same way, religious intolerance and
    discrimination may undermine the sense of justice
    and inclusion of significant portions of the
    population, weaken solidarity and mutual respect,
    and ultimately erode social cohesion.

International concern inspires a number of studies
  • United Kingdom Paul Weller, Alice Feldman, and
    Kingsley Purdam, "Religious Discrimination in
    England and Wales, Home Office Research Study
    220," Home Office Research, Development and
    Statistics Directorate (2001).
  • Australia Gary Bouma Desmond Cahill, Hass Dellal
    and Michael Leahy, "Religion Cultural Diversity
    and Safeguarding Australia," ed. Department of
    Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous
    Affairs (2004).
  • European Union European Monitoring Centre on
    Racism and Xenophobia, "Muslims in the European
    Union Discrimination and Islamophobia," ed. EUMC
    (EUMC, 2006).

Putting religion back on the agenda
  • No policy or program aimed at making Canada a
    more participatory, inclusive, democratic, just
    and culturally diverse society can afford to
    ignore religious intolerance and discrimination.

  • The Making of a Christian Canada
  • Some historical background on
  • religion in Canada

Some background on religion in Canada
  • Aboriginal peoples had their own spiritual
  • French attempted to transplant Christendom,
    that is, recreate in New France the condition of
    establishment in France.

  • Church and State are equally Christian
  • Church and State cooperate in creating the
    framework for society, each acting in its sphere
    of competence
  • State usually enforces a religious monopoly on
    behalf of the Church
  • Theology usually justifies the established order
  • Religion and culture are fused together

The British project of establishment
  • After 1763, the British attempted to establish
    the Church of England in British North America.
  • By 1854, this project is abandoned, but not the
    idea of a Christian Canada
  • The creation of a plural establishment.

The Canadian project plural establishment
  • Official recognition of non-denominational
    Christianity of the Protestant majority with
    concessions to large Roman Catholic population
  • Cooperation with large, mainline, respectable
    denominations, especially Anglicans,
    Presbyterians and the United Church of Canada
  • Maintenance of a social establishment Canadian
    culture and values are strongly formed by

We are not the United States
  • When you are arrested, the police will not read
    you your Miranda rights.
  • There is no separation of Church and State in

Historical consequences
  • Education, health care, social services,
    immigrant integration, services to aboriginal
    peoples (including the residential school
    disaster) are shared Church/State intiatives.
  • To be a good Canadian is to be a good Christian.
  • Prohibition and control of alcohol
  • Legislation on sexual morality, marriage, and
  • Lords Day Act (1905-1985)

To be a good Canadian, one had to be a good
  • In 1913, the Assistant Superintendent of the
    Baptist Home Mission Board of Ontario and Quebec,
    C.J. Cameron wrote
  • We must endeavor to assimilate the foreigner.
    If the Canadian civilization fails to assimilate
    the great mass of foreigners admitted to our
    country the result will be destruction to the
    ideals of a free and nominally Christian nation,
    which will be supplanted by a lower order of
    habits, customs and institutions. there is but
    one all sufficient method by which this goal is
    reached we shall Canadianize the foreigner by
    Christianizing him.

  • Dismissal and suppression of aboriginal
  • Anti-Catholicism
  • Intolerance towards minority Christian groups
  • Widespread anti-Semitism
  • Religious intolerance added to bigotry towards
    members of visible minority groups
  • Sikhs
  • Hindus
  • Buddhists
  • Muslims
  • Chinese

Solution secularization
  • Autonomy and neutrality of the state in the face
    of religion
  • For example legislation on same-sex unions
  • Autonomy of the marketplace
  • The Lords Day Act was first Charter issue under
    Section 2.
  • State takes over education, healthcare, social
  • Gradually outside of Quebec
  • Dramatically inside of Quebec la Révolution

Solution secularization
  • Social disestablishment
  • Cultural values formed by non-Christian sources
  • Widespread cultural adoption of American-style
    separation of Church and State
  • Religious diversity seen as a public good and
    tolerance or pluralism is embraced as a element
    of multiculturalism.

Some caveats re. secularization
  • Decline of religious mentalities on individual
    level did not happen.
  • Religion is privatized, de-institutionalized,
    dispersed, and subjectivated.
  • The process is by no means complete. Canada is
    not a secular society but a secularizing society
    and, more precisely, a de-Christianizing society.

  • The Multi-faith Future
  • The new religious landscape


What stayed the same
  • Canada still predominantly Christian, 76.6.
  • 70 are either Roman Catholic (largest
    denomination) or Protestant.
  • Jews and Roman Catholics experienced moderate
    growth (about 4-5).
  • http//

What changed since 1991
  • Number of no religion, grew from 12.3 to 16.2
  • We have no idea what this means because this
    figure includes atheists, agnostics, many Chinese
    Canadians, and young people who may return to
    religious practice later.
  • Increase in Muslim (128.9), Hindu (89.3),
    Buddhist (83.8) and Sikh communities (88.8)
  • Still altogether, they make up only 6.3 of the
  • Increased in non-mainline Christian population

Protestant decline 1991-2001
  • Decline in mainline Protestant denominations
  • Most dramatic for Presbyterians (-35.6)
  • Pentecostals dropped 15 to about 369,500

The multi-faith future why we can expect more
religious diversity in Canada
  • Based on the proposed projection scenarios,
    persons who are members of non Christian
    denominations should represent between 9.2 and
    11.2 of the Canadian population in 2017, or
    between 3,049,000 and 4,107,000 people.
  • Compare to 2001 when 6.3 of the population
    (1,922,000 people) identified themselves as
    Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh or other
    non-Christian religions.
  • Compare to 1991 when approximately 4 of the
    population did the same.
  • Bélanger and Malenfant, "Population Projections
    of Visible Minority Groups, Canada, Provinces and
    Regions, 2001-2017," 19. http//
    Emphasis in the original.

Religious Composition of Immigrant Cohorts,
1961-2001 ()

Potential for growth of religious intolerance and
  • Statistics Canada has recently projected growth
    in the populations most likely to experience
  • Increased immigration will bring greater
    potential for increase of religious intolerance
    and discrimination rooted in transnational

Potential for growth of religious intolerance and
  • Growth in the population of non-Christian
    Canadians will be tied mostly to increased
  • These groups will be concentrated in Montreal,
    Toronto, and Vancouver
  • Their concentration will likely mean new demands
    for structural change and accommodation
  • For example, in March 2007, the Toronto Star
    reported a controversy over the Hindu practice of
    dispersing cremated human remains in moving
    water, that is to say, rivers and lakes in the
    Mississauga area.

Potential for growth of religious intolerance and
  • The Census data show a marked increase in the
    number of Canadians adopting non-mainstream
    religious identities, such as Wicca and other New
    Religious Movements.
  • The only Christian denominations showing signs of
    growth are evangelical Protestants, whose
    inclination is to express their form of
    Christianity in public.
  • Even mainline Christian churches may become more
    conservative and more like their evangelical
  • These groups may also demand greater
    accommodation and participation, challenging
    other Canadians to change the way we interact in
    the public sphere.

  • Religious Intolerance and
  • Discrimination in Canada Today
  • Attitudes and Practices

Religious IntoleranceWhat polls and surveys say
  • Canadians have a generally positive view of most
    religious groups
  • However, a significant minority are suspicious of
    Muslims and Jews
  • In 1991, an Angus Reid poll found that Sikhs were
    the group with which Canadians felt least

Only 13 of EDS respondents identified religion
as the source of perceived discrimination
Table 4. Religion as Source of Discrimination
from Respondents who Perceived Discrimination,
Ethnic Diversity Survey, 2003 The population
that was taken into account by the EDS consisted
of Canadians over 15 years of age who were not
However, 43 of reported hate crimes have a
religious motivation (vs. Race 57)
Table 5. Hate crime incidents by motivation in 12
major police forces in Canada. Pilot study
project by Statistics Canada 2002
Socio-economic impact of religious intolerance
  • Jewish Canadian families, who are victims of
    religious intolerance and discrimination, on
    average are wealthier and better educated than
    the average Canadian family
  • Morton Weinfeld points out that, in 1991, about
    22 of Jews lived in households with an income
    over 100,000, three times the rate for other
  • See also N. Tomes, "Religion and Rate Returns to
    Human Capital Evidence from Canada," Canadian
    Journal of Economics 16 (1983), R. Meng and J.
    Sentance, "Religion and the Determination of
    Earnings Further Results," The Canadian Journal
    of Economics 17, no. 3 (1984). 

Socio-economic impact of religious intolerance
  • Muslim Canadian families, who also suffer
    significant levels of religious intolerance and
    discrimination, have among the lowest individual
    income levels among all Canadians.
  • This is odd because Muslim Canadians as a group
    have the second highest educational attainment in
    the country (after Jewish Canadians) and some 10
    above the Canadian average.

Appendix D, Chart 3 Individual Income Levels and
Religious Identity, Adults, 21 years old,
Canada, 2001

Graph provided by Dr. P. Beyer, University of
Ottawa and used with permission.
Appendix D, Chart 6 Comparative Income Level and
Educational Attainment according to Religious
Non-Immigrant 21-30 year-olds, Selected Ethnic
Identities, Canada, 2001 () Source Statistics
Canada, 2004. Graph provided by Dr. P. Beyer,
University of Ottawa and used with permission.
Other arenas of discrimination and intolerance
  • Workplace issues tolerance and accommodation
  • Education structures, practices and culture
  • Women and religious intolerance and discrimination

Other arenas of discrimination and intolerance
  • Local politics, accommodation and conflict
  • Media coverage and bias
  • Religious intolerance on the Internet
  • Healthcare the extent and limits of tolerance

Symbolic belonging what and who is Canadian?
  • Religious holiday accommodation practical and
    symbolic importance
  • The battle over haberdashery (turbans, kirpans,
    hijabs, etc.)
  • The importance of symbols as markers of
    boundaries, identity and solidarity

  • Addressing Religious Intolerance and
  • Some Ideas for Discussion

Protection of religious freedom and diversity
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
    Section 2
  • Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms
  • a) freedom of conscience and religion
  • b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and
    expression, including freedom of the press and
    other media of communication
  • c) freedom of peaceful assembly and
  • d) freedom of association.
  • Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988)
  • Canadian Human Rights Act (1985) along with the
    myriad provincial human rights codes

Protection of religious freedom and diversity
  • Supreme Court decisions
  • R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., 1985 established
    principles of neutrality of the state and law.
  • Ont. Human Rights Comm. v. Simpsons-Sears, 1985
    established obligation of reasonable
    accommodation for employer.

Protection of religious freedom and diversity
  • Non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation
    in the workplace
  • Employment Equity Act (1995)
  • Canada Labour Code (R.S., 1985, c. L-2)

Foundational principles
  • State must not favour any one religion
  • Practices cannot discriminate indirectly
  • Individuals must be accommodated
  • However, religious freedom in not unlimited

Structural issues not yet addressed by
legislative, judicial and administrative changes
  • What is religion? What is religious freedom?
  • Case of traditional aboriginal spirituality
  • The invisibility of Chinese religion

Some ideas on addressing religious intolerance
and discrimination
  • Commit to making the issue a priority
  • Allow religious diversity to inspire us to
    question the structures of Canadian society
  • Promote education and dialogue

I. Making addressing intolerance and
discrimination a priority
  • Making religious intolerance and discrimination a
    priority by promoting religious rights and
    freedoms and integrating them more fully into all
    initiatives to promote multiculturalism.In a
    study of 546 research projects sponsored by the
    Multiculturalism Program from 2000-2004, only 19
    related to religion in any significant fashion.
    Six of these dealt with the after-effects of
  • Conducting more extensive study on the economic
    disadvantages faced by Muslim Canadians.

II. Questioning structures
  • Addressing the issue of Christian privilege more
    thoroughly, both on the practical and structural
  • Adopting an open secularism (la laïcité ouverte)
    that accepts the participation of religious
    communities in public debates.
  • Recognizing traditional Aboriginal spirituality
    in a way that would allow Aboriginal peoples to
    control more aspects of their own lives and

III. Public education at all levels
  • Promoting unbiased education about religion for
    all students, and also for policy-makers, media
    representatives and other stake-holders in public
  • Sponsoring interfaith dialogue and cooperation,
    capitalizing on existing ecumenical and
    interfaith movements.

Direct inquiries to
  • David Seljak
  • Department of Religious Studies
  • St. Jeromes University
  • in the University of Waterloo
  • 519-884-8111, ext. 28232