Monday, May 01, 2006

Decoding Canadian Culture part 1

This is the first installment of a series of posts in my attempt to decode Canadian culture. I'll specifically focus on the kind of culture we find in Ottawa, the nation's capital.

Canadian culture is much more secular than American culture. Religion plays no major role in public life. Spirituality is something that you do personally and privately. Offending other people due to religion is a major faux pas. Here's a quote from the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Click here for the whole article.

"Canada's ceremony on Parliament Hill, after the events in New York on September 11, 2001,was telling. God's name was not uttered, and prayer, hymn singing or reading from scripture of any religion were absent. This stems presumably from the belief that, if such activities took place, someone, somehow, somewhere might be offended."
-David Horrox, Presbyterian Church in Canada

Unlike American culture where Christianity is very much a civil religion and where national roots are generally recognized as Christian, Canada seems to have more in common with post-Christian Europe. Religion is institutional. It has no place in public policy as seen with how Stockwell Day was treated when he led the Conservative Alliance party in 2000.

This will greatly impact the way we approach our mission to help disconnected people become fully devoted followers of Christ. Unlike the American church, we cannot take a direct marketing approach to promote Jesus, the gospel, or the church. Canadians are extremely sensitive to this kind of "hard sell." I believe that the practice of hospitality will be a key to reaching Canadians.

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