Religion, Spirituality, and Secularity in the Pacific Northwest: Major Themes

by Paul Bramadat (University of Victoria)

Working Papers WP 20-02
March 2020
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

The configuration of religion, spirituality, and secularity characteristic of the Pacific Northwest region of North America (Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) strikes many people as quite peculiar. In particular, the states and province that comprise “Cascadia” are associated with very low levels of religiosity when compared to the other states and provinces in the US and Canada. Although Cascadia is home to rapidly expanding Sikh, Buddhist, and Hindu communities, thriving yoga and new age sub-cultures, evangelical “mega-churches”, and a resurgence in Indigenous culture and spirituality, one might nonetheless say that it is the most secular region in North America. Initially my colleagues and I sought to address the social implications of the processes of secularization unfolding in the Pacific Northwest; the differences between the Canadian and US “sides” of this bioregion; and the barriers that might exist for traditional and usually conservative believers living in a post-institutional liberal environment. While these three considerations inform this project as a whole, each author also deals with empirical and theoretical issues related to their own academic interests, and with matters (such as the concerns of Indigenous Americans and Canadians) that became more central considerations during fieldwork. In this introductory chapter, I explain the theoretical and empirical context for our study. An additional Working Paper related to “reverential naturalism” articulates a novel addition to the theoretical tools normally used to asses religion and irreligion in western liberal democracies.  


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