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Religion and Multiculturalism in Canada La religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada. The Challenge of Religious Intolerance and Discrimination Le défi posé par l’intolérance religieuse et la discrimination.

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Religion and multiculturalism in canada la religion et le multiculturalisme au canada l.jpg

Religion and Multiculturalism in CanadaLa religion et le multiculturalisme au Canada

The Challenge of Religious Intolerance and Discrimination

Le défi posé par l’intolérance religieuse et la discrimination


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

David Seljak, Department of Religious Studies

St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo

With

  • Joanne Benham Rennick, University of Waterloo

  • Andréa Schmidt, independent researcher, Toronto

  • Kathryn Da Silva, University of Ottawa

  • Paul Bramadat, University of Winnipeg


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General conclusions

  • Religious intolerance and discrimination pose significant barriers to achieving the goals of multiculturalism

  • The nature of religious intolerance and discrimination in Canada is changing.

  • The old intolerance and discrimination have not been sufficiently addressed.


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General conclusions

  • An emerging “closed” secularism has the potential to promote intolerance and discrimination.

  • Transnational issues threaten to increase religious intolerance and discrimination in Canada.

  • A positive, dynamic effort to promote religious freedom and tolerance will make Canada a more just, participatory and multicultural society.


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Religious intolerance and discrimination: definitions

  • Intolerance: attitudes, values and beliefs

  • Discrimination: actions, practices, and structures

  • “Structural discrimination” or “religious disadvantage”

    • Often they go together, but often they do not. For example, Ontario’s decision not to fund religiously based independent schools discriminates against non-Catholics but was made in the absence of malice.


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Religion – race – ethnicity

  • Difficult to isolate religion from race and ethnicity

    • Examples of Jews and Sikhs.

  • Difficult to isolate causes of intolerance and discrimination

    • Anti-Semitism, like Islamophobia, can be a toxic cocktail of religious chauvinism, racism, ethnic prejudice, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant bigotry.


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Religious intolerance and discrimination as barriers to the goals of the Multiculturalism Program

  • Social justice

  • Inclusion and participation

  • Respect for cultural diversity


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Sources of religious intolerance and discrimination in Canada

  • Structural issues that demand long-term solutions

  • Secularization: the solution that has become part of the problem

  • Globalization and religious intolerance and discrimination in Canada

  • Cultural sources of intolerance and discrimination


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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 Canada’s Aboriginal peoples


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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”


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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.


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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 communities

  • 8. Religious intolerance and discrimination that are part of a wider ideology of racism and ethnocentrism


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“Ethnoracial diversity may adversely affect a society’s 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.

Challenge of religious intolerance and discrimination to multiculturalism


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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).


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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.


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The Making of a Christian Canada

Some historical background on

religion in Canada


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Some background on religion in Canada

  • Aboriginal peoples had their own spiritual traditions

  • French attempted to “transplant Christendom,” that is, recreate in New France the condition of “establishment” in France.


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Establishment

  • 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


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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.”


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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 Christianity


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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 Canada.


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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 abortion

    • Lord’s Day Act (1905-1985)


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To be a good Canadian, one had to be a good Christian

  • 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.


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Dismissal and suppression of aboriginal spiritualities

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

Consequences


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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 Lord’s Day Act was first Charter issue under Section 2.

  • State takes over education, healthcare, social services

    • Gradually outside of Quebec

    • Dramatically inside of Quebec: la Révolution tranquille


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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.


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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.


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The Multi-faith Future

The new religious landscape


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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://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/rel/canada.cfm#overview


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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 population

  • Increased in non-mainline Christian population (121%).


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Protestant decline 1991-2001

  • Decline in mainline Protestant denominations (-8%)

  • Most dramatic for Presbyterians (-35.6%)

  • Pentecostals dropped 15% to about 369,500


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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://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/91-541-XIE/91-541-XIE2005001.pdf. Emphasis in the original.


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Religious Composition of Immigrant Cohorts, 1961-2001 (%)


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Potential for growth of religious intolerance and discrimination

  • Statistics Canada has recently projected growth in the populations most likely to experience discrimination.

  • Increased immigration will bring greater potential for increase of religious intolerance and discrimination rooted in transnational issues.


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Potential for growth of religious intolerance and discrimination

  • Growth in the population of non-Christian Canadians will be tied mostly to increased immigration.

  • 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.


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Potential for growth of religious intolerance and discrimination

  • 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 counterparts.

  • These groups may also demand greater accommodation and participation, challenging other Canadians to change the way we interact in the public sphere.


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Religious Intolerance and

Discrimination in Canada Today

Attitudes and Practices


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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 comfortable

Religious IntoleranceWhat polls and surveys say


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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 aboriginals.


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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


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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 Canadians.

    • 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). 


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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.


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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.


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Appendix D, Chart 6: Comparative Income Level and Educational Attainment according to Religious Identity

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.


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Other arenas of discrimination and intolerance

  • Workplace issues: tolerance and accommodation

  • Education: structures, practices and culture

  • Women and religious intolerance and discrimination


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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


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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


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Addressing Religious Intolerance and Discrimination

Some Ideas for Discussion


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Protection of religious freedom and diversity today

  • 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


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Protection of religious freedom and diversity today

  • 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.


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Protection of religious freedom and diversity today

  • Non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation in the workplace

    • Employment Equity Act (1995)

    • Canada Labour Code (R.S., 1985, c. L-2)


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Foundational principles

  • State must not favour any one religion

  • Practices cannot discriminate indirectly

  • Individuals must be accommodated

  • However, religious freedom in not unlimited


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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


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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


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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 9/11.

  • Conducting more extensive study on the economic disadvantages faced by Muslim Canadians.


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II. Questioning structures

  • Addressing the issue of Christian privilege more thoroughly, both on the practical and structural levels.

  • 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 communities.


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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 debates.

  • Sponsoring interfaith dialogue and cooperation, capitalizing on existing ecumenical and interfaith movements.


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Direct inquiries to

David Seljak

Department of Religious Studies

St. Jerome’s University

in the University of Waterloo

[email protected]

519-884-8111, ext. 28232


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