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- Q&A with Raymond Breton: The role of religion in the integration of minorities in Canada.
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By its very nature, the census tells us how people self-identify. It tells us nothing about how religious or irreligious a person is. Just as saying that Many may have attended religious schools, accepted assistance from a religious charity, had an operation in a hospital run by a religion or received services from a religious service provider. Further, just as the figure As far back as Glenn Vernon identified a need to differentiate between different categories of what he called "independents. Another important story from the census results which a focus on the There is no legal obligation to answer this question.
As Tom Frame dryly puts it, "Plainly, many people had previously identified with a denomination merely for the sake of completing the form. The first big jump in those self-identifying as having no religion came in with the figure jumping from 0. Rather it highlights the importance of crafting census questions and instructions to participants.
Chapter Religion – Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition
While, as Gary Bouma has insisted, "[n]either those who would declare that Australia is a Christian country nor those who see the rise of those declaring 'no religion' as the death knell of religion can take heart from this census," the census results do remind us of the importance of both religious belief and un-belief in Australia. It is a timely reminder as we as a society face multiple legal and policy decisions which will affect people's lives and beliefs.
Issues such as same-sex marriage, education, euthanasia, terrorism laws, migration, abortion and many others have an inherently religious angle. In fact, almost every policy decision we make in Australia has the potential to have a religious angle. The wearing of particular clothes, the eating or the non-eating of meat or other foods, the observance of ceremonies, not only in religious worship, but in the everyday life of the individual - all of these may become part of religion.
We must therefore be alive to the potential implication to freedom of and freedom from religion in every policy decision and public debate. The protection of freedom of religion and freedom from religion is relatively weak in Australia.
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While section of the Australian Constitution ostensibly protects freedom of religion and establishes a secular state, it only applies at the Federal level and has consistently been interpreted narrowly by Australia's High Court. Australia is a state party to several international human rights instruments which include freedom of religion including the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, international law instruments are not automatically incorporated into domestic law. Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have enacted legislative bills of rights which incorporate freedom of religion, and the Tasmanian Constitution also incorporates freedom of religion.
But these too are weak protections. They only operate within the territories of Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania and, as ordinary acts of parliament, may be easily displaced. Freedom of religion in Australia is therefore protected primarily through the political process and the good will of the majority. As those who self-identify as having no religion rightly claim protection in the form of freedom from religion and a voice in public debates on matters of belief, we must be conscious not to trample on freedom of religion at the same time.
While Christianity, as the majority faith of Australia, has been able to "look after itself" until now, with its waning majority we must be careful not to trample the religious freedom of Christians in the rush include new and different voices in public debate. In the battle for supremacy between the "nones" and Christianity, we must also be conscious of minority faiths which in made up 8. For small and emerging faith groups, whose beliefs and practices may not be well-understood in Australia, there is always a real risk of policy decisions affecting their religious beliefs and practices unintentionally or as the result of misunderstanding.
Manning Clarke famously characterized religion in Australia as, and perhaps is increasingly, a "whisper in the mind and a shy hope in the heart. In finding our way forward as a nation, the solutions at which we arrive will be a uniquely Australian balancing act - and all the richer for being so. Wednesday 5 July pm. Once in a Western country, they are likely to observe others of their own religion, but who came from different countries or regions of the world. As a result they may be led to ask themselves what is religious in their beliefs and practices and what is due to the fact that they come from a particular national culture..
Another process is set in motion by the children of immigrants. They become integrated in a Western way of life when they go to school and start challenging certain religiously-sanctioned practices. In response, parents may come to ask themselves what are essential elements of their religion and what is part of the secular culture of their country of origin. Religious leaders also play a role in this connection because they feel the need to adapt the religious norms and rituals to the Western culture.
Chapter 15. Religion
They also have to deal with the fact that frequently the members of their congregations are of different ethnic origins: they practice the same religion but follow different cultural practices. Confronted with such situations, religious leaders are led to make a distinction between the religious and secular by emphasizing the fundamentals of the religion. Also, as in the case of people with a Christian background, the religious practices and patterns of religiosity of non-Christian immigrants are progressively becoming more privatized.
People practice privately, as opposed to going to church. The data analysis conducted by my assistant Mai Phan finds that attendance at religious observances is lower among Muslims than it is among Christians if we control for level of education and other demographic characteristics. Yes I was. It is really surprising. However, we have to realize that many of people who come to North America or Europe do so to get away from what they consider as cultural constraints to which they are exposed in their home country.
- Chapter Religion – Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition.
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In other words, many were prepared to make the changes and accommodations that were necessary to be able to succeed in the North American or European contexts. The higher the level of education, the more people become secularized, or the more they dissociate ethnicity from religion. Unfortunately, there is not much research on that. They present a picture of Muslims frequently in a negative and generalizing way, which offends the members and leaders of these churches.
The Imam of this mosque was offended because the mosque did not radicalize them; rather, members urged them to integrate into society. So the media give the impression that the mosques are centres of radicalism, which is irresponsible journalism. There are probably a few Muslim leaders here and there who are extremists, but by and large, they want their members to become part of Canadian society. In fact, some research shows that mosques are active in discouraging radical attitudes and behaviour.
Integration occurs at two levels: the integration of individuals on the one hand, and the integration of institutions of the minority, on the other hand. Some studies have shown how Judaism as an institution became part of North American society. Well, the same process will eventually take place with the non-Christian minorities: eventually, they will be perceives a part of the religious mosaic. Another factor that struck me about the integration of individuals is that early on after arrival — that was true for Christian minorities too — the leaders of the institutions had quite a bit of influence on these individuals.
But with time, their influence diminishes. There have been many studies that show that they go in the opposite direction: they try to help their members to integrate. They have courses to teach English, or how to use computers, or how to find a job, etc. And one of the reasons for this is that they want their members to keep on coming to their places of worship. According to some of the research that came out of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, accommodation, just like the integration, occurs on a day-to-day basis. Government policies are important in the sense that we have a Constitution, a Bill of Rights against discrimination; these institutional frameworks are very important.
But accommodation and integration take place on a day-to-day basis in the course of dealing with the tasks that need to be done if the organizations schools, workplace, hospitals, community associations, etc. Some studies in Quebec carried out for the Commission showed that the religious practices of the Muslims or Hindus were dealt with by finding out what was practical in a particular situation.
From a policy standpoint, I would say that it is essential to respect the constitutional and legal framework established in our society. Beyond that, issues need to be defined as practical arrangements to be negotiated at the local level.
Religion in Germany
If the issues are defined as regional or national, accommodations will be much more difficult to negotiate. If they are defined as identity issues, the situation becomes very difficult, largely because identities are not matters that are negotiable. The research I have reviewed shows that accommodation is really a day-to-day issue that takes place at the grassroots level. For example, we had a serviceman who came to our house to do some kind of maintenance work.
Do you mind if I get my carpet and I go down to your basement to pray? So this Muslim man went downstairs, for five, six minutes and he prayed and he said thank you very much, and then he left. This guy is more integrated into society because of little gestures like that.
People take into account their differences, so at the workplace or in the neighborhood is the level at which the integration of immigrants generally takes place. There is a need for further research in all the areas examined in the book. However, comparative studies would be very useful. For instance, do the processes of integration of non-Christian and non-European minorities differ in any significant ways from those that take place among Christian, European minorities?
There may well be significant differences. Non-Christian immigrants come to a society in which their religion is not culturally and institutionally established. Thus they face challenged of institutional and social recognition which may be more likely to involve cultural clashes and thus raise particular problems of accommodation. Comparative-historical studies may reveal that earlier waves of immigrants were also had to deal with such issues.
In other words, to what extent are the processes of integration affected by differences in cultural traditions?
The question of the dissociation of ethnicity and religion may be more of an issue when the religious traditions of the immigrants differ from that of the receiving society.