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

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image of International Journal of Public Theology

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.

Affiliations: 1: University of


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