Social/cultural geography III: the Geography of Religion
Religion: A set of beliefs (and associated activities) that facilitates an appreciation and understanding of our
place in the world and acts to unify all those that “believe” into a single community
- Religion is one of the fundamental ways that cultural groups distinguish themselves from one another
Universality: Serve a basic human/cultural need
- Religious laws/beliefs govern: diet, dress, roles of men/women, laws, education, lifestyles etc. (ex. Ontario)
- Influence human cultural behaviour and interaction
- ‘Ways of life’ and culture of religion
In terms of number of adherents (followers/believers) which religion is the largest worldwide?
- Christianity ~ 1/3 of the global population
Ex. Roman Catholic
- Islam ~ 1/5 of the global population
- Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.
What about in Canada, which is the largest?
- Christianity: between ½ and 2/3 of the Canadian population
- Some people claim to be “non-religious”, what percent of the population do you think this is?
Geography of religion: migration & diffusion
- Differential spatial distributions; some religions are spatially widespread while others are more spatially
- Spatial diffusion: migrants bring their religion with them to their new home
- Migrants typically retain their religion
- Recall: diffusion – spread of phenomena over space
- Recall: cultural adaptation – a process which results in changes to, and create of new, religions
- Origins: Middle East (c. 2000 years ago)
- 3 ‘branches’ developed via cultural adaptation
- Diffusion via colonialism
Region: classification & regionalization
- How is religion expressed on the global landscape?
ex. Diffusion of Christianity & Islam - How does the previous map ‘hide’ the global religious plurality?
- Canada: Christian majority, but declining overtime (1901 – 94%, 2001 – 66%, 2011 – 57%)
- ‘No Religion’ & Secularism
- Approx. 16% of the world’s population and 24% of Canadians claim to have no religion
1. Atheism: the disbelief in the existence of deities
2. The view that the existence of deities is unknown and//or unknowable
3. Irreligion: The absence of, or indifference towards, religion
Shades of grey: Practicing vs. non-practicing
Key concepts in the geography of religion
No religion & secularism
- The declining importance of religion and secularism
- Secularism: the separation of government and social/cultural ways of life from religious institutio