Religions (Nov 2017)

Religious Diversity in the Public Sphere: The Canadian Case

  • Lori G. Beaman

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 12
p. 259


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This paper analyzes the contours of religious and nonreligious diversity in the Canadian public sphere. The ever-changing (non)religious landscape offers an opportunity to consider the flow of ideas from this new diversity to responses and choices at the individual, group, and state levels to inclusion and exclusion. The paper first begins with a descriptive approach to religious diversity, identifying the normatively-charged nature inherent to measures of religion. It then turns to the notion of choices, considering the somewhat uniquely Canadian contributions of multiculturalism, reasonable accommodation, and the recent complication of nonreligion as a category of religious identity. The paper then considers three case studies which reveal the tensions embedded in the new diversity and responses to it in Canada, including (1) the Saint-Sacrement Hospital crucifix incident; (2) Zunera Ishaq’s challenge to the citizenship ceremony niqab ban; and (3) school controversies in Ontario’s Peel Region.