In 2007 during a public audience of the Bouchard-Taylor commission, Gerard Bouchard, one of the commissioners, asked a Moroccan association, whether and how frequently they asked for religious accommodations. His question is a good illustration of how religious minorities, and in particular Muslims, in and outside Quebec, are increasingly imagined as making requests for religious accommodations.
What is the impact of this discourse of request on how we think about religion and religious pluralism? This talk discusses how this discourse carries expectations regarding the forms Islam takes in Canada, as well as how Muslims should act and perform their faith. Focusing on Quebec, it explores to what extent this discourse reflects and influences the everyday experience of devout Muslims. Ultimately, the talk argues that this discourse overlooks the complexity of how they work out, with themselves and with others, their religious practices and commitments.
Amélie Barras is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University. Her research considers the relationship between politics, religion, gender and law in and beyond Canada. She is the author of Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf Ban (Routledge, 2014).
In December of 1989, several thousand AIDS activists staged a protest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of New York. The protestors demanded that Catholic leaders end their political opposition to AIDS education, measures to prevent antigay discrimination, and women’s rights to free and safe abortions. Critics quickly condemned the demonstration for crossing the lines of peaceful protest and even for being sacrilegious. This talk draws upon the 1989 protest as a case study in the history of the culture wars, in particular the battles over religious and sexual freedom that continue to animate political debate in the United States today. Tracing arguments of AIDS activists and Catholic leaders, this talk demonstrates how both sides drew upon secular claims for religious freedom while simultaneously pushing against the limits of these very arguments by blurring the line between religion and politics.
Anthony M. Petro is Assistant Professor of Religion at Boston University. He writes and teaches on the history of religion in the United States, the religious politics of medicine and public health, and gender and sexuality studies. He is the author of After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford, 2015)