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.
Labels: Culture, International Experiences