- The aim of this project is to address the following question: What are the contours of religious diversity in Canada and how can we best respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by religious diversity in ways that promote a just and peaceful society? Specifically, the proposed project investigates the following questions:1. How are religious identities socially constructed?
- How is religious expression defined and delimited in law and public policy?
- How and why do gender and sexuality act as flashpoints in debates on religious freedom?
- What are alternative strategies for managing religious diversity?
The discursive and practical uses that are made of ideas of “religious diversity” are at the centre of this project. Its two main aims are (a) to understand how these ideas are constructed, deployed and criticized in private and public contexts that include social scientific data and research, political and legal debates, and policy making, and (b) to consider how best to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by the variety of meanings attributed to religious diversity in ways that promote a just and peaceful society. We seek to understand more fully how religion intersects with and is part of legal, political and social structures and to explicate the implications of this for moving beyond the frameworks of mere tolerance and accommodation.
The project’s main contribution will be to identify in detail the contours of religious diversity in Canada and the potential benefits of approaches to diversity that promote substantive or deep equality and move beyond tolerance and accommodation. Our comparative research will place Canada in the context of other western democracies and, over the course of the project, will identify global patterns in responses to religious diversity. Our research will provide new data and theoretical articulations concerning religious diversity. This research program aims to present diversity not primarily as a problem but as a resource and to propose strategies for equality that will advance knowledge and enhance public policy decision-making.