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Thursday, March 01, 2007
International Faith Experiences: Introduction
Beginning today I plan to post a series of entries about my experiences as a Christian living in Canada, Toronto to be specific. A great deal of the "Christian" (much less "Emerging") stuff out there seems to assume that everyone who reads it lives in the U.S. As much as I enjoy dissecting and discussing U.S. culture, it is my opinion that the church would greatly benefit from expanding it's focus to include cultures and societies that are outside of this box.

I hope that other EW bloggers who currently live (or who have lived) outside of the U.S. will eventually post their experiences as well. *nudges Irim.* ;)

Disclaimer: I have not traveled outside of Toronto enough to know if everything I am about to say is applicable to all of Canada. Sometimes it's difficult for me to differentiate between the aspects of Torontonian culture that are unique to Canada versus the aspects that can be better explained by the differences between rural and suburban areas. I apologize in advance to anyone living in other areas of Canada who read my generalizations and think that I've mixed up the two at some point.

I apoligize for the length of this post as well. Future entries should be shorter.

Anyone who has lived in Canada is probably giggling a little right now, as apologizing for the slightest offense (real or imagined) is a very "Canadian" thing to do. :)


I moved to Toronto about two years ago to live with my then-fiance. Prior to moving here I lived in various sections of the U.S., although most of my life up until that point had been spent in rural Ohio.

Canada and the States share many things in common: both countries speak English as one of their main languages, originated as British colonies, drive on the right side of the road, and refer to their currency as "dollars."

However, I have noticed some fascinating differences between the two cultures. Today I'll focus on the influence of Evangelical Christians on politics in the States versus the influence of Evangelical Christians here in Canada.

In the States, political parties view Christians as a valuable voting bloc ("values voters," anyone?). The Republican Party has worked very hard to woo Evangelical Christians in recent elections, and doing so has paid off for them. Christians can easily make (or break) an election down south.

Elections in Canada are different. Most of the parties up here do not appear to court to any particular religious group...or at least they don't here in Ontario. It is my understanding that the Western provinces tend to be more conservative and religious. While there are many Christians who live up here, Christians groups as a rule do not have a strong effect on the outcome of an election.

One reason for this is that Canadian society tends to be less socially conservative than U.S. society: marijuana is legal to use for medical purposes up here, same-sex marriage has been legalized in all provinces since 2005, and abortion is covered by the national health insurance. I get the impression that Christians who fight to end any or all of these are perceived to be rather eccentric and old-fashioned at best.

A Christian who is passionate about about abortion up here, to give one example, is much more likely to put that passion to use by volunteering for an organization like Birthright than they are to stage a "pro-life" protest (although to be fair I did see it happen once downtown....the one-person protest in question was politely ignored by everyone who walked by.) Incidentially, Birthright was founded by a Canadian woman.

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posted by Lydia at 3:27 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/01/2007 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Linda

    Thanks for sharing about Canada. I think it's true that most egocentric Americans view Canada as a wayward state to the north. :-) I look forward to reading and learning more.

    Out of curiosity, where did you live in Ohio? I live just outside of Dayton.

  • At 3/01/2007 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    It's my pleasure, and

    a small town in the Northwest corner of Ohio called Defiance.


  • At 3/01/2007 09:34:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Keep it coming! One of the reasons I have been attracted to "emerging" ideas is the reality check: "what"...American's aren't the most important goal for religion and God? I only wish more American's did experience more of other cultures/ideas. I wish I had been more sensitive to it earlier in my life. It is easy for any culture to become self-centered, if we aren't exposed to others.

  • At 3/02/2007 08:55:00 AM, Blogger IR

    great discussion about politics up there. is birthright a particularly strong organization? i know that things like a woman's concern have struggled in the boston area.

  • At 3/02/2007 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    Unfortunately I don't know very much about Birthright.

    I get the impression that it's doing well, as they do seem to have enough money to pay for the occasionalprint or tv ad.

  • At 3/02/2007 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Thanks for the non-USA perspective - I hope we can get more perspectives shown here as well.

    I often see the evangelical church's hold on American politics to be more similar to conservative Muslim control of countries like Iran.

  • At 3/02/2007 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thank you Lydia! Please continue to share your perspective from another country/culture in any/all our discussions, and same to any lurkers from places other than the U.S.

    Julie, I agree, I think the tendency of politicized Christianity to try to aim for theocracy is more reminiscent of muslim extremism than the kingdom of God that Jesus seems to to call us to. But those are just my thoughts.


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