Media Narratives of the Interactions between Religions and Cultures in Canada

Media Narratives of the Interactions between Religions and Cultures in Canada

Richelle R. Wiseman
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5035-0.ch010
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Canadian immigration patterns suggest that as the country retains its commitment to intake some half a million immigrants a year from Southeast Asia, Africa, South and Central America, the dynamics of religious diversity and interactions in Canada are bound to increase. A fixed and rigid “secularist” mindset among news outlets, magazine boardrooms, film companies, and other media will miss the richness of the creativity, diversity, imagination, and interactions between cultures and religions, which will continue to form the “street narratives” that the media's meta-narrative overlooks. This chapter documents instances of where the “meta-narrative” is seen to prevail and distort the accurate portrayal of religion and culture in Canada, where it has missed the interactions between religions, and the contributions that culture and religion are making to each other.
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The Secularist Meta-Narrative Prevails

Of fundamental importance is the dominance of secularist thinking and secularism as these provide the over-arching meta-narrative for the media and its approach to religious subjects, individuals, and issues. Secularists tend to regard religion and religious issues with a particular worldview, and one which shapes the portrayals of religion across the “mainstream” media. They see religion as a private matter without a place in the public sphere. The “secularist” mindset dominates the newsrooms of Canada where it is largely assumed that in pursuing journalistic “objectivity”, one must be secular and therefore not have a particular or personal religious bias.

In their book, Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship, authors Geoffrey Brahm Levy and Tariq Modood, had Canadian renowned philosopher Charles Taylor tackle the definition of secularism in the Foreword of the book. Taylor first traces the origin of the term “secularization” to the aftermath of the Reformation when it indicated “when the functions, properties, and institutions were transferred out of the church control to that of the laymen, this was secularization.”

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