Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society


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Emily Suzanne Clark

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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. 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?

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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.

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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. Indeed, the religion of the majority in North America has been embedded in a particular culture for a long period of time. Finally, as seen in the research reviewed, tensions do occur between groups from different religious traditions.

However, there appears to be efforts to negotiate accommodations, attempts at collaboration on common projects and other cohesion-building efforts. More research is needed on such inter-group endeavors. Raymond Breton was born in Montmartre, Saskatchewan. He is a Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Toronto.

His research interests focus on immigration, ethnicity, language and inter-group relations.

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He is co-author of A Fragile Social Fabric? He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Guelph in , from the University of Waterloo in , an honorary degree of Law from the University of Manitoba in and an honorary University Doctorate from the University of Ottawa in Many of our faculty, students, and staff are online engaging in a vibrant discussion on ethnic, immigration, and pluralism studies.

Join the conversation! General Inquiries: munkschool utoronto. Site Search Search Search in How did you come to revisit this topic in relation to Muslim immigrants? Why do you think the role of religion in the integration of ethnic minorities has been understudied?

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Tell us about the key findings of your research. What were the most intriguing, surprising things that you found from your review of the literature? Were you surprised? Does social class or the level of education have an impact on how immigrants will integrate once they come to the host society? You mention in the introduction of your book that for Muslim immigrants, external factors that are related to where they come from matter more than what happens after they arrive in the host society in terms of integration.

What can you tell us about the accommodation process and how that is related to integration? Are there any implications from a policy standpoint? 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. Since then, religion, mysticism and statehood remained intertwined elements in Russia's identity. Czar Nicholas I 's ideology, under which the empire reached its widest extent, proclaimed "Orthodoxy, autocracy and nation" Pravoslavie , samoderzhavie , narodnost' as its foundations.

The dominance of the Russian Orthodox Church was sealed by law, and, as the empire incorporated peoples of alternative creeds, religions were tied to ethnicities to skirt any issue of integration. Until , only the Russian Orthodox Church could engage in missionary activity to convert non-Orthodox people, and apostasy was treated as an offense punishable by law. Catholicism , Islam and other religions were tolerated only among outsider inoroditsy peoples but forbidden from spreading among Russians.

Throughout the history of early and imperial Russia there were, however, religious movements which posed a challenge to the monopoly of the Russian Orthodox Church and put forward stances of freedom of conscience, namely the Old Believers —who separated from the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Nikon 's reform in the Raskol —, and Spiritual Christianity or Molokanism.

By the end of the eighteenth century, dvoeverie "double faith" , popular religion which preserved Slavic pantheism under a Christianised surface, found appreciation among intellectuals who tried to delineate Russian distinctiveness against the West. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in —, the Russian Orthodox Church has struggled to regain its erstwhile monopoly of religious life, despite it and other Christian churches which existed since before the Revolution have found themselves in a radically transformed context characterised by a religious pluralism unknown before This, together with the more recent swift ongoing development of communications, has resulted in an unprecedented mingling of different religious cultures.

Saint George and the Dragon , 16th-century icon from Pskov. The Trinity , icon by an unknown artist from Tobolsk. In the study of religions in Russia, the "ethnic principle" is based on the assumption that the entire number of people belonging to a given ethnic group are adherents of that group's traditional religion. This principle is often used to estimate the magnitude of very small groups, for instance Finnish Lutheranism at 63,, assuming that all the 34, Finns and 28, Estonians of Russia are believers in their historical religion; or German Lutheranism at ,, assuming that all Germans in Russia believe in their historical religion.

However, whether for small or larger groups, this approach may lead to gross mistakes. The ethnic principle is sometimes misused to deliberately inflate the prevalence of certain religions, especially the larger ones, for political aims. For instance, Islamic and Orthodox leaders routinely claim that their religions have respectively 20 million and million adherents in Russia, by counting all the individuals belonging to the ethnic groups which historically belonged to these religions.


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Another criterion to count religious populations in Russia is that of "religious observance". Based on this principle, very few Russians would be religious. It has been found that between 0. The most accurate criterion to count religious populations in Russia is that of "self-identification", which allows to count also those people who identify themselves with a given religion but do not actually practise it. This principle provides a picture of how much given ideas and outlooks are widespread among the people.

Another method that has sometimes been used to determine the magnitude of religions in Russia is to count the number of their officially registered organisations. Such criterion, however, leads to inaccurate assumptions for various reasons. There is not the same arithmetic relationship between religions' number of local organisations and the number of their believers, as different religions have different organisational structures.

Furthermore, different religions have different attitudes towards the registration of their organisations, and secular authorities register some without difficulties while hinder the registration of others. For instance, the Russian Orthodox Church is eager to register its communities when they are still at the embryonal stage, and many of them are actually inactive; the Old Believers traditionally do not consider registration as essential, and some branches reject it in principle; and Protestant churches have the largest number of unregistered congregations, probably around ten thousand, most of them extremely small groups, and while many denominations discourage registration, they often also face a negative disposition from secular authorities.

In August the first large-scale survey and mapping of religions in Russia based on self-identification was published in the Arena Atlas , an extension of the Census , with data on seventy-nine out of eighty-three of the federal subjects of Russia. All the data, approximated, are from the Arena Atlas Christianity was the religious self-identification of Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion of the country, and, besides it, Old Believers and Lutheranism also have had a considerable role in the multiethnic history of Russia. Evangelicalism and Catholicism among Russians are relatively recent additions to Christianity in Russia.

Orthodox Christian believers constituted Most of them were members of the Russian Orthodox Church, while small minorities were Old Believers and Orthodox Christian believers who either did not belong to any church or belonged to non-Russian Orthodox churches including the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church. Minor Orthodox Christian churches are represented among ethnic minorities of Ukrainians , Georgians and Armenians.

The contemporary Russian Orthodox Church the Moscow Patriarchate; Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov' , despite legally dating back only to , claims to be the direct successor of the pre-revolutionary Orthodox Russian Church Pravoslavnaia Rossiskaia Tserkov'.


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They have a slightly different name reflecting the distinction between Russkiy , ethnic Russians , and Rossiyane , citizens of Russia whether ethnic Russians or belonging to other ethnic groups. There are also a variety of small Orthodox Christian churches which claim as well to be the direct successors of the pre-revolutionary religious body, including the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. There have often been disputes between these churches and the Russian Orthodox Church over the reappropriation of disused churches, with the Russian Orthodox Church winning most cases thanks to the complicity of secular authorities.

The Old Believers constituted 0. Catholicism was the religion of , Russian citizens, about 0. They are concentrated in Western Russia with numbers ranging between 0. At the same time there has been a discrete rise of ethnic Russian converts to the Catholic Church. Further suffragan bishoprics exist in Irkutsk , Novosibirsk and Saratov. The Diocese of Irkutsk is in fact the largest Catholic bishopric on earth, covering an area of 9,, squared kilometres.

Almost all Russian Catholics adhere to the Latin Rite.

Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society
Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society Different Gods: Integrating Non-Christian Minorities into a Primarily Christian Society

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