TIO In Canada - June 2013

Increasing Number of Interfaith Projects with Significant Funding
by Leslie Mezei, June 15, 2013

We are much encouraged by the increasing number of Canadian interfaith projects that are receiving significant funding. Here are a few examples that we have reported on just this year:

  • January 2013: “Faith and the Common Good” Celebrates a Decade of Achievements: Into Our Second Decade of Greening Sacred Spaces.

  • February 2013: Major Funding for University of Toronto Multi-Faith Youth Project: The Religious Diversity Youth Leadership Project. ($500,000 grant from Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

  • March 2013: Canadian Centre for Diversity Thriving: “Peer Leaders Network” in 40 Schools!

  • April 2003 (Events): The Power of Spirit: A Multifaith Exploration of Triumph Over Adversity and Persecution. B.C.

  • May, 2013: Interfaith Religious Studies Funded in Montreal: $5 Million Gift from McGill Alumni Strengthens Interfaith Scholarship

  • June 2013: B.C. Government Pioneering Funding for Interfaith: The B.C. Inter-Faith Bridging Project

  • June 2013: Funding Pluralism Projects, Mainly for Young People: The First Annual Report of The Inspirit Foundation.

Organizational development, obtaining charitable tax status, and fundraising are difficult skills for many of us. It is interesting to note that one of the main organizers of the forthcoming Danforth Multifaith Community walk (see Events) is Ken Wyman, a trainer and consultant in fundraising. He has contributed to the recent definitive book: Excellence in Fundraising in Canada which is reviewed here. And he is coordinator of a certificate program at Toronto’s Humber College on fundraising and volunteer management. There are probably similar courses offered elsewhere in the country. There is much information at the Canadian Charity Information website, including a discussion of the new “Crowdsourcing” phenomenon, which allows for online giving in small amounts by many people.




B.C. Government Pioneering Funding for Interfaith
The B.C. Inter-Faith Bridging Project

Faith communities can play an important role in building diverse, inclusive communities and in eliminating racism and promoting multiculturalism. Funding provided through interfaith bridging will support building relationships between diverse, established faith communities and increase understanding of intersecting identities, such as a person’s faith, culture and ethnicity. To be considered for funding, interfaith bridging projects must demonstrate relevance to faith communities within British Columbia. Examples of interfaith bridging projects may include (but are not limited to):

  • collaborative projects among distinct faith communities;

  • tools that encourage knowledge exchange and sharing between diverse faith and cultural groups;

  • faith-based forums focused on diverse faith communities and issues of racism;

  • building teams and coalitions with a diverse cross-section of faith groups for the purpose of addressing interfaith religious conflict; and

  • interfaith, intra-faith and inter-denominational dialogues on racism and multiculturalism within established faith traditions.

B.C. is the first jurisdiction in Canada with funding that focuses specifically on faith and spiritual diversity.

[Read more…]

See Vernon, B.C. Internet Cafes in TIO-in-Canada Events this month.


New Green Resource Available
Roman Catholic Bishops Issue ‘Call to Action’ on Environment
Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Prairie Messenger, March 10, 2013

Bishop BolenSASKATOON (CCN) — A new Canadian bishops’ document summarizing themes of recent church teaching on the environment is an urgent cry for action, says Bishop Donald Bolen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

“Recent church teaching and papal statements are clearly telling us that the way we are living is not sustainable,” said Bolen, one of the bishops on the Canadian bishops’ Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, which has released a new resource titled Building a New Culture: Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment.

“Care of the environment is a growing area of concern for the church and for all human beings, and in fact the church has been speaking about this –and in particular, recent popes have been speaking about this – not only with regularity, but with passion,” said Bolen. “That urgent concern for the environment is the premise and the starting point of this document and of the papal statements that it draws upon.”

Bolen noted that it is important to understand the genre of the document. Rather than addressing specific government policies, it lays out guiding principles for Catholic engagement on such issues. “The bishops are trying to foster a mature church, where educated, passionately committed, well-informed laity will take the lead in addressing these critical issues of the day.” For those who believe the environmental crisis is not the church’s concern, the document will hopefully serve as a wake-up call, encouraging them to become responsibly engaged, he said. “Yet it does so not by entering into debate about particular strategies, but by setting forth a vision. It makes clear that for Catholics, the care of the environment is part of a larger vision,” Bolen explained. …

The document distills eight foundational themes from recent papal teaching on the environment: human beings are creatures made in God’s image; creation has an intrinsic order; human ecology and its relationship to environmental ecology; responsible stewardship; care for the environment is a moral issue; solidarity; creation and spirituality; and responses to current environmental problems….

[Read More…]


A New Culture
Kofi Annan: Pluralism, A Key Challenge of the 21st Century
2nd Annual Pluralism Lecture, Ottawa, May 23, 2013, Global Centre for Pluralism

On May 23, 2013, the Global Centre for Pluralism held its second Annual Pluralism Lecture in Ottawa. This year’s speaker – Nobel Peace laureate and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – is a member of our Board of Directors. Seating for this annual event was limited and by invitation; however, this year’s lecture was webcast live via the Globe and Mail. The Globe’s editor-in-chief, John Stackhouse, served as moderator.

A video of the complete Annual Pluralism Lecture program is available on our newly launched website, along with a pre-lecture interview with Mr. Annan.

Pluralist societies by their nature are challenging to govern. To secure the equitable outcomes of pluralism, Mr. Annan urged governments to:

  • Ensure that equal weight is given to the three pillars of successful societies, which are peace and security, development, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

  • Create the right institutions and policies to manage diversity and prevent communities from becoming marginalized and oppressed.

  • Educate citizens to foster mutual respect and tolerance.

  • Promote dialogue to combat fear, intolerance and extremism.

“My long experience has taught me,” he said, “that, whatever our background, what unites us is far greater than what divides us...We have to learn from each other, making our different traditions and cultures a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness.” But he stressed there is no simple, one-size-fits-all formula for pluralism that will solve the problems of diversity in all societies...

[Read more...]


New Statistics on Religion in Canada and the U.S. – Three Articles
Religious Secular Divide Narrower than Believed
Rabbi Dow Marmur, Toronto Star, May 27, 2013

We didn’t have to wait for the recently published data in the 2011 National Household Survey to know that nowadays fewer people attend conventional religious services. Spokespersons for mainstream places of worship repeatedly report that their numbers are down and that they find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet… But that doesn’t mean that people are less religious, only that they’re not willing to participate in conventional public worship or affiliate with traditional institutions. Though they may still want the benefit of clergy for life cycle events like weddings and funerals, they don’t appear to need it for personal devotions or religious instruction. Places of worship seem to be more in demand for grand occasions than for regular services.

People today yearn for transcendence no less than earlier generations, but many resent being directed by pulpit and altar as to where and how to find it. Instead of submitting to traditional hierarchies, they want vibrant informal and democratic communities run by members, not gurus. They say they’re “spiritual, not religious,” even if in reality the distinction between the two isn’t always clear to them or to anybody else.

[Read more…]


More “Non-affiliation” than in the U.S.
Canadians Turning Away from Organized Religion
Ron Csillag, Religion News Service, May 15, 2013

TORONTO (RNS) – A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers. Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination …

Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991. The Canadian trend seems to mirror but even exceed levels of non-affiliation in the United States. A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life pegged the ratio of religiously unaffiliated Americans at just under 20 percent. But Pew also has found that more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all.

The Canadian study showed that just more than 7 percent of the country was Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist, an increase from 5 percent a decade earlier. The Muslim population exceeded the 1 million mark, according to the survey, almost doubling in size for the third consecutive decade, and recording the biggest increase in growth of any religion, at 60 percent since 2001.

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Religion Marks a Divergent Path throughout U.S., Canadian History
Canadian Press, Waterloo Region Record, March 10, 2013

WASHINGTON — Canada and the United States are not just two of the world’s closest neighbors in terms of commerce, trade and culture, but the former British colonies also shared many of the same fundamental beliefs and ideals as they forged their respective nations. How, then, did religion come to play such a significant and enduring role in public policy in the United States compared to its neighbor to the north?

Just over 67 per cent of those who participated in the 2011 National Household Survey – Statistics Canada’s voluntary replacement for the cancelled mandatory long-form census – reported being “affiliated with a Christian religion,” the agency reported Wednesday. But among new Canadian immigrants, the number of Christians has dropped to 47.5 per cent from 78 per cent in 1971, while nearly one-quarter of the Canadian population reported having no religious affiliation at all, compared with 16 per cent in 2001. In the U.S., meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans still consider themselves religious – many of them devoutly so. A recent Gallup survey found that throughout the U.S. in 2012, 40 per cent of Americans considered themselves to be “very religious.” Twenty-nine per cent described themselves as moderately religious, while 31 per cent said they were not religious. …

There are myriad reasons for the divergent religious makeup of the U.S. and Canada, academics say. They run the gamut from demographic and immigration trends to the religious beliefs of the founding fathers of both nations and each country’s response to the profound social and cultural shifts of the 1960s. …

Don Hutchinson, the director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Centre for Faith and Public Life, says Canada’s religious groups are more careful – indeed, more Canadian – about the language they use while attempting to influence public policy. “In the U.S., there’s still an openness to quoting the Bible as a standalone, reliable source as the position being taken on some issues,” he said. “In our culture, we have come to the conclusion that the language of public policy development is a language that we have to learn how to communicate... In Canada, religious organizations have effectively engaged in public policy by identifying the principles we have found in our religious beliefs, assessing them and proposing sound public policy based on these beliefs by using a common language.”

[Read more…]


Funding Pluralism Projects, Mainly for Young People
The First Annual Report, Inspirit Foundation

Pluralism is not diversity alone and it is not just tolerance. It involves dialogue, engagement and exchange. We believe that what is missing in our current diverse society is opportunities for people with and without religious affiliation to connect and work together to build a stronger Canada.

In 1984 Vision TV was created to offer Canadians multifaith programming designed to foster greater understanding and knowledge of Canada’s spiritual heritages. Vision TV, although licensed by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), was also a registered charity. It was an interesting task balancing this dual structure, but it was done successfully, leading to the sale of Vision TV to ZoomerMedia in 2010. After the sale, the Board of Directors of S-VOX – the registered charity that operated Vision – undertook to use the funds to continue the charity’s vision as a public foundation named Inspirit.” …

[Read more…]

See Inspirit’s discussion paper on pluralism here. You can review projects supported by Inspirit here, and make an application yourself.




Guidelines for Organizing Interfaith Group Visits to Houses of Worship

Encounter 2005These comprehensive guidelines for visiting houses of worship of various faiths were authored by renowned Canadian multifaith educator, JW Windland, Encounter World Religions Centre, One cannot really understand a faith tradition without entering into some kind of experience of that tradition. A house of worship site visit allows for just such an experience. Inside the house of worship, one encounters the tradition’s unique culture – its music, its prayer, its beliefs, its practices, its foods, its rituals, its people. One of the benefits of such visits is that not only does one learn more about another faith tradition but one also learns about oneself and about one’s own religious tradition

Here is the link to the Scarboro Missions Website where you can view or download this document, which contains an abundance of tips on arranging visits to houses of worship.


Videos Now Available of the Montreal Conference, May 27-28, 2013
Bridging the Secular Divide: Religion and Canadian Public Discourse

Dr. Karen Hamilton, left“How should perspectives that draw from religion inform the national conversation? How do we judge the legitimate – and illegitimate – role of religion in our public discourse? How can engagement by religious voices make positive contributions to our pursuit of the common good for all Canadians? Where does responsibility rest for changing the current state of affairs? These are questions that call for reflection on both values and practice, as we explore together how to bridge the secular divide.”

These were the questions on May 27- 28. You can review what happened: View videos here Framework documents Program and speakers descriptions.



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