Sunday, November 19, 2017

Canadian Population Diversity and Religion

"I think the low number of Canadians who celebrate the fact that we have religious freedom is very troubling and really speaks to the forces of secularization that are at work in Canadian society."
"It really is time for the religious communities in this country to set aside some of their doctrinal differences and look at coming together to communicate better with Canadians on the role of religion and faith in Canada."
Angus Reid, founder, president, Angus Reid Institute

"I don't think the people answering this poll are answering from the consequence of day-to-day experience. I think what we're talking about is a public narrative."
"[Might it be that those religions receiving negative views are distinguished by the hijab and turban] is a discomfort with the particulars of their faith? Or is it a discomfort with the fact that they're different than us?"
"Ray Pennings, executive vice-president, Cardus

These statements resulted from an online poll of just under two thousand Canadian adults, conducted from October 15 to the 23rd of this year. The poll result gave evidence that Canadians, traditionally fairly comfortable with the presence of visible minorities among them, in an essentially immigrant-based society as a whole long accustomed to living and working among people originally from all parts of the world, have now grown restive with the concept of a multicultural society.

To anyone with an ounce of brains, it would be obvious why, as Mr. Pennings points out, a level of suspicion has been evident among respondents to the poll with respect to Sikhs and Muslims. Canada's most horrific terrorist experience came out of a Sikh plot among Canadian Sikhs living in British Columbia to strike a blow for Khalistan, a wished-for separation from India for Indian Sikhs.

Explosives aboard an Air India flight full of Indo-Canadians was blown up over the Atlantic. The perpetrators were put on trial, but the result was inconclusive and they were never fully held to criminal account for the devastating horror of 329 innocent people losing their lives, in 1985. Little wonder the memory of that dreadful event still shapes peoples' thoughts about Sikh-Canadians. But reasonable people know that the actions of a handful if malcontents with malicious intentions do not represent all those who share a common background.
Jagmeet Singh, the newly minted leader of the federal NDP: An Angus Reid poll explores the attitudes of Canadians to the idea of a Sikh leader.
Jagmeet Singh, the newly minted leader of the federal NDP: An Angus Reid poll explores the attitudes of Canadians to the idea of a Sikh leader.  (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo

On the other hand, the simple fact is Sikh-Canadians are an integral part of Canadian society. So much so that under the current government, Canadians now have a Sikh as their Minister of Defence, and another Sikh Canadian lawyer has been elected as leader of of the federal New Democratic Party. As for suspicions of Muslims being high on peoples' minds, the reasons are obvious enough. Most of the terrorist groups bedevilling world society are Muslim.

Muslims have been attacking one another in bloodthirsty violence reflecting sectarian hatred -- and Muslim countries have spectacularly failed to govern their populations, instead exploiting and visiting violence on them. The world's premier terrorist groups are Muslim, threatening not only their own, but destabilizing and terrorizing the West, from Europe to North America and beyond. Little wonder Muslims are held in suspicion. They are the latest source of the most virulent anti-Semitism.

In Quebec which has just adopted a law prohibiting women wearing niqabs from receiving or giving government services, 26 percent of respondents accepted religious diversity while 23 percent rejected it and 44 percent agreed diversity represents a mixture of good and bad. Anti-Islam sentiment however, stands at 46 percent claiming Islam damages Canada.

This poll was a joint venture between Angus Reid and Faith in Canada 150.

"...If Islam is involved, a significant segment of Canadians will react negatively", an analysis of the numbers by the Angus Reid Institute clarified. Generally, Catholicism, Protestantism, evangelical Christianity and Judaism all received positive ratings overall. With the exception of Quebec where 55 percent claim Islam is damaging and 22 percent claimed the same for Judaism.

Overall, a slight majority of 55 percent of respondents felt freedom of religion results in Canada being a better country. Angus Reid perceives the results reflecting a "potential for intolerance toward those of faith, in particular toward adherents of minority religions". On the other hand several groups stood out for growing influence, representing Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism, where the established, traditional religions in Canada appeared to have a dimished influence.

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