This Week in Religion 2018-03-11

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By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“VANCOUVER — Jaspreet Bal was eating lunch with friends in rural Ontario when she says a “kind, well-intentioned” white man approached them to chat. He asked about her background, and she replied she was Sikh.

“Oh yeah, Air India,” he said, recognition flashing in his eyes.

Bal was born in 1985, the same year that Sikh militants bombed Air India Flight 182, killing all 329 on board. It was, apparently, the man’s only point of reference for her religion.”


“Are Canadians embracing religion less than previous generations? Sociologist Reginald Bibby,  author of Resilient Gods, would say no.

“Right now, it’s popular to say younger millennials are highly secularized compared to past generations,” he says. “But when you look at the data since the 1980s, while there has been a slight increase in those who don’t value religion, there is stability in the segment of people who do value religion. People variously reject, embrace or take a middle position on religion.”

Bibby has conducted national surveys on religion in Canada every five years since 1975, producing data from thousands of Canadians and tracking trends over time.”


“CRANBROOK, B.C. — A judge has rejected a challenge of Canada’s polygamy laws that was launched after two men were found guilty of the offence in British Columbia.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court last July of having multiple wives, but a lawyer for Blackmore argued the law infringes on the charter right to freedom of religion and expression.

Justice Sheri Ann Donegan dismissed all arguments Friday that the charges should be stayed, including a claim that the prosecution was an abuse of process.”


Pakistani Canadian Daood Hamdani is a pioneer in the study of Muslims in Canada. A retired statistician, his most recent publication, “Canadian Muslims: A Statistical Review“, has been used to highlight key statistics about Muslim demographics in Canada, including the ridings with the largest Muslim populations in the lead up to the 2015 Federal Election.

Daood Hamdani was born in Ferozpur, British India in 1939. His family immigrated to the new nation of Pakistan in 1947 where he grew up in the small town of Jhang in the province of Punjab. He grew up surrounded by the religious diversity of the region, attending schools run by Christians, following Islamic Studies from both Shia and Sunni teachers, and having meetings of his debate team at the Ahmadiyya community centre. Hamdani is proud to say he graduated from Jhang Government College, the same college that produced Pakistan’s first Nobel Prize winner – Professor Abdus Salam. After graduating, Hamdani moved to Lahore to attend the Forman Christian College.

His area of study was economics and he moved to the United States on a scholarship from Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he shifted to St. Johns, Newfoundland in 1965 and started work as a research fellow at Memorial University. His area of study had him travel all across Newfoundland to study the geographical and occupational mobility of the labour force. He then shifted to Queens University in Kingston and looked at inter-provincial migration in Canada and its impact on the Canadian economy. Eventually, his career had him travel to the University of Toronto where he worked as a teaching assistant. He jokes that he was responsible for “teaching basic courses that new people are given that senior people don’t want to teach.””


“In an appeal for equality and inclusivity, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has recently reiterated calls for the Ontario government to abolish the province’s Catholic schools and move toward one secular school system for each official language.

This is what Quebec did in 1997. Make no mistake, though, it isn’t one harmonious system for all. It’s still two separate school systems.

Separating children by religion is deemed by the ETFO to be an anachronism and an assault on inclusivity in Ontario’s diverse 21st century society. Curiously, separating them by language is not.”


“It’s the day of the Doug.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party rejected the options of bland moderation or a famous name, and instead chose in Doug Ford the brother of the most notorious municipal politician in Canadian history, and a man who has turned bluster and hyperbole into art forms. A blowhard he may be, but one would be acutely foolish not to take him very seriously indeed.

One of the probing questions being asked right now is what Ford does with the socially conservative and right-wing Christian support he received during the leadership election. Candidate Tanya Granic Allen was never going to win the race, but her votes were crucial in Ford’s triumph, and when he made his victory speech, there was the anti-sex-ed campaigner standing right behind him. If nothing else, the woman who told us that children failed at school math because they spent all of their time learning about anal sex knew how to milk a media opportunity and get in front of the camera. Witness her bringing out water to journalists during the count, because apparently there was absolutely none available in the entire hotel!”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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