Obligations of Faith: Understanding the Place of Religion in the Context of Canadian Multiculturalism

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This dissertation explores how religion is understood in the context of Canadian multiculturalism. While Canadians seem to have a fairly high level of comfort with ethnic, or linguistic diversity, religion presents a stumbling block in both political and social contexts. We are taught it is impolite to talk about religion, and many Canadians are uncomfortable with these discussions. This makes the place of religion in the public sphere unclear. Realities of diversity and pluralism inevitably lead to instances of miscommunication, uncertainty and conflict. Multiculturalism serves as strong a political tool and policy. However, it serious challenges reveal limitations of multiculturalism as both a philosophy and a policy, particularly as it pertains to religion. An appeal to Charles Taylor’s understanding of secularism, which asserts that no particular position of belief or unbelief is privileged and that all are equally contestable, serves as the definition from which our conceptual and legal tools can be most effective. Reasonable accommodation and the politics of recognition have become the primary methods of understanding and negotiating religious diversity in Canada. While both of these notions are ultimately flawed, this dissertation argues that they have utility insofar as they are tempered with a Levinasian commitment to the other, and an openness to narrative and dialogue. Cultural and religious diversity are simply realities in the increasingly globalised world and it is important that we have strong philosophical foundations that allow for pragmatic and effective methods of problem solving and conflict resolution.
multiculturalism, religious diversity, philosophy of religion, religion and politics
Ferrey, J. (2018). Obligations of Faith: Understanding the Place of Religion in the Context of Canadian Multiculturalism (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.