Two Nations under God: Religion and Public in Canada and the United States

in International Journal of Public Theology
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This article explores relationships between religion and public life in Canada and the United States. Attention is given to historical and contemporary situations in Canada, especially regarding cultural and political developments leading to the growing privatization of religion in the nation. Through an examination of the vestiges of church establishment in Upper Canada, the varieties of federal and provincial funding of religious activities, the history of the social gospel, the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Quebec’s recently proposed Charter of Values, the article analyses the complicated nature represented by the mixing of religion and public life in Canada. The Canadian developments are compared, where appropriate, to the public expressions of religion found in North American civil religion. The article concludes with reflections about whether Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism is inconsistent with the privatization of religion and should lead to a cultural shift towards the deprivatization of religion.

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References

1

See Margaret Wendt, ‘The Collapse of the Liberal Church’, The Globe and Mail, Toronto (28 July 2012), <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-collapse-of-the-liberal-church/article4443228/?utm_source=Shared+Article+Sent+to+User&utm_medium=E-mail:+Newsletters+/+E-Blasts+/+etc.&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links> [accessed 24 April 2014]. Wendt basically equates forays into public life with an abandonment of what religion is really about, namely the individual relationship with God: ‘As the United Church found common cause with auto workers, it became widely known as the ndp at prayer. Social justice was its gospel. Spiritual fulfilment would be achieved through boycotts and recycling. Instead of Youth for Christ, it has a group called Youth for Eco-Justice. Mardi Tindal, the current moderator, recently undertook a spiritual outreach tour across Canada to urge “the healing of soul, community and creation” by reducing our carbon footprint. Which raises the obvious question: If you really, really care about the environment, why not just join Greenpeace?’ (ibid.)

2

Reginald Bibby, Beyond the Gods and Back: Religion’s Demise and Rise and Why It Matters (Lethbridge: Project Canada Books, 2011).

3

Marguerite Van Die, ed., Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 3.

4

E. Brooks Holifield, God’s Ambassadors: A History of the Christian Clergy in America (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), p. 146; with regards to increasing polarization, see ibid., pp. 319–27.

7

Robert Bellah and Phillip Hammond, Varieties of Civil Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980), p. xiii.

8

Andrew E. Kim, ‘The Absence of Pan-Canadian Civil Religion: Plurality, Duality, and Conflict in Symbols of Canadian Culture’, Sociology of Religion, 54:3 (1993), 257–75 at 258.

9

Ibid., 259.

10

See Kim, ‘The Absence of Pan-Canadian Civil Religion’, 258–60.

11

Ibid., 261–2.

12

Andy Blatchford, ‘Two Thirds of Quebeckers call Maple Leaf Flag Source of “Pride” ’, Globe and Mail (28 November 2012), <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/two-thirds-of-quebeckers-call-maple-leaf-flag-source-of-pride/article5750454/> [accessed 24 April 2014].

15

Mark Noll, ‘What Happened to Christian Canada?’, Church History, 75:2 (June 2006), 245–73 at 250.

16

Ibid., 249.

19

Grant, The Church in the Canadian Era, pp. 240–41.

20

Sandro Contenta, ‘How the Church Lost Quebec’, The Toronto Star (9 March 2013), A22.

21

Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide (New York: Routledge, 1990).

22

Noll, ‘What Happened to Christian Canada?’, 252.

24

John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada (Toronto: Viking Canada/Penguin Group, 2008), p. 56.

25

Ibid., p. 57.

26

Ibid., p. 62.

27

Martin L. Freidland, The University of Toronto: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 24.

29

Douglas Owram, ‘Strachan & Ryerson: Guardians of the Future’, Canadian Literature, 83 (Winter 1979), 21–8.

32

See ibid., pp. 14–17.

38

Lina Dib and Fannie Olivier, ‘$5455,000 in Federal Funds for Group with Anti-Gay Views’, The Toronto Star (11 February 2013), A1.

39

Rick Westhead, ‘Faith Groups’ Aid Dollars Increasing, Study Finds’, Toronto Star (12 February 2013), A6.

45

Tim Harper, ‘The Tories Have Changed Canada in No Time At All’, Toronto Star (3 May 2013), A8.

46

Holifield, God’s Ambassadors, p. 3.

47

Ibid., pp. 3–4.

48

Ibid., p. 9.

51

Richard Allen, ‘The Social Gospel and the Reform Tradition in Canada, 1890–1928’, Canadian Historical Review, 49: 4 (1968), 381–99 at 381.

53

See Allen Mills, Fool for Christ: The Political Thought of J. S. Woodsworth (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991); see also Dean Eugene McHenry, The Third Force in Canada: The Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation, 1932–1948 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1950).

54

See A. W. Johnson, Dream No Little Dreams: A Biography of the Douglas Government of Saskatchewan, 1944–1961 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004).

55

Bill Blaikie, The Blaikie Report: An Insider’s Look at Faith and Politics (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2011), see particularly pp. 5–22.

56

Ibid., p. 6.

58

Blaikie, The Blaikie Report, p. 18.

60

Martin Lanouette, ‘Prayer in the Legislature: Tradition Meets Secularization’, Canadian Parliamentary Review (Winter 2009), 1–6 at 4.

61

Ibid., 5.

64

Ibid., p. 91.

66

Ibid., p. 92.

69

Ibid., p. 102.

72

Michael Gauvreau, ‘From Rechristianization to Contestation: Catholic Values and Quebec Society, 1831–1970’, Church History, 69:4 (2000), 803–33 at 803.

73

Ibid., 804.

76

Ibid., 806.

79

Ibid., 808.

83

See Joseph Dunlop, ‘Pierre Trudeau and the Canadian Bishops: Catholic Involvement in the Federal Legal Reforms of 1967–69’, p. 41, unpublished paper written for a class taught by Robert Bothwell.

84

Joseph Dunlop, ‘The “Christian Society” of Garret FitzGerald and Pierre Elliott Trudeau’, Éire-Ireland, 44:3/4 (2009), 43–74 at 70. Dunlap here relies on Sylvain Larocque, Gay Marriage: The Story of a Canadian Social Revolution, trans. R. Chodos, L. Blair and B. Waterhouse (Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2006).

85

Egerton, ‘Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution’, p. 97; Nancy Christie and Michael Gauvreau argue that ‘once sexual morality became relativistic, so too, by implication, did all other social codes and conventions’; thus, it became impossible for the United Church ‘to uphold a notion of Christian Canada when it had itself abandoned an explicit distinction between sin and salvation’ (see Nancy Christie and Michael Gauvreau, Christian Churches and Their Peoples, 1840–1965: A Social History of Religion in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), p. 197).

86

Dunlop, ‘The “Christian Society” of Garret FitzGerald and Pierre Elliott Trudeau’, 53.

87

Ibid., 50.

88

Ibid., 52.

90

Dunlop, ‘The “Christian Society” of Garret FitzGerald and Pierre Elliott Trudeau’, 54.

91

Egerton, ‘Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution’, p. 93.

93

Egerton, ‘Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution’, p. 94.

94

See Government of Canada, ‘Constitution Act, 1982—Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’, Justice Laws Website, <http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html> [accessed 6 May 2014].

95

Blaikie, The Blaikie Report, p. 12.

96

Egerton, ‘Trudeau, God, and the Canadian Constitution’, pp. 106–108.

100

Ingrid Peritz, ‘Quebec Values Charter “Goes Too Far”, Says Former Parti Québécois Premier Parizeau’, The Globe and Mail (3 October 2013), <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec-charter-goes-too-far-says-former-quebec-premier-parizeau/article14674313/> [accessed 1 May 2014].

101

Amira Elghawaby, ‘The Other Has No Place in Quebec’s Charter of Values’, Toronto Star (3 September 2013), A13.

103

Ibid., pp. 154–77.

104

Ibid., pp. 164–5.

105

Ibid., p. 169.

106

Ibid., p. 169. The notion of the ‘deprivatization of religion’ depends on the argument developed by José Casanova in his Public Religions and the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). See also José Casanova, ‘Public Religions Revisited’, in Hent de Vries, ed., Religion: Beyond the Concept (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), pp. 101–19.

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