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McMaster University
Michael Mercier

Social/cultural geography III: the Geography of Religion Introduction: 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? World: 16% Canada: 24% Geography of religion: migration & diffusion - Differential spatial distributions; some religions are spatially widespread while others are more spatially concentrated - 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 e.g. Christianity: - 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 - Heterogeneity 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
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