Religious Sphere in Canada: Public Manifestations and Media Representations

Religious Sphere in Canada: Public Manifestations and Media Representations

Mahmoud Eid (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5035-0.ch004
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Abstract

Canadian demographic trends indicate that the number of religious adherents from various faith groups is on the rise. Despite successful integration of some religions into mainstream Canadian society, discrimination against some faith groups persists. Christianity is the dominant religion in Canada, the minorities being Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. The mainstream media are considered a main driver of social cohesion in Canada because they construct ideologies and define communities. They are a key lever in shaping debate about religion in the public sphere; however, debates exist on how religion is portrayed in the media. Despite the vast religious diversity in Canada, media organizations commonly ignore religious minorities, deeming them insignificant, unfavourable, and sometimes invisible. This chapter reviews and compares research findings on Canadian media depictions of these faith groups over the past few decades. Canadians of various faith groups have expressed a wide array of sentiments toward their representations in the media. Vast differences in media depictions exist; however, dominant discourses and representations prevail for each faith group: Christians are the normal group; Muslims are in discord with Western societies; Jews require sympathy; Buddhists are peaceful; Hindus are friendly; and Sikhs are extremists. It is suggested here that considerable research needs to be conducted on Canadian mainstream media patterns of coverage and portrayals of interfaith activities within Canadian society.
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Religious Landscape In Canada

The Canadian population entails a wide array of religions that continue to evolve. The 2001 census indicates that the Canadian population consists of 76.6% Christians, 2% Muslims, 1.1% Jews, 1% Buddhists, 1% Hindus, and 0.9% Sikhs. Some of the main Canadian cities that have a diverse religious landscape are Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Ottawa. According to projections presented by Statistics Canada in 2005, persons who are members of non-Christian denominations are expected to represent between 9.2% and 11.2% of the Canadian population in 2017. This proportion reflects an upward trend in relation to its observed level in 2001, when 6.3% of the population declared its religion as Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or other non-Christian religions. Further predictions project that the number of persons having a non-Christian religion would more than double by 2031, reaching between 5.3 million and 6.8 million in 2031 compared to an estimated 2.5 million in 2006 (Statistics Canada, 2010).

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