What is civic religious literacy in Canada?

What is civic religious literacy in Canada?

Civic religious literacy in Canada is an understanding of religious literacy that is grounded on civic purposes in Canada.

Religious literacy

In general, religious literacy consists of knowledge and skills to help us understand religious, spiritual, and non-religious worldviews. It goes beyond mere knowledge of the basic tenets, principles, or practices of  a worldview.  It is civic in nature because it is an academic approach to perceive people’s beliefs and affiliations in order for us to understand each other, our society, and live better together.

Most scholars in the world agree on the principles about religious literacy outlined by Harvard Religion and Public Life. Each agree that the conversation is also context specific.

Religious literacy in Canada

In Canada, our unique history, demography, political, economic, cultural, and social reality requires an understanding of religious literacy in Canada.

Civic religious literacy in Canada includes: 

1. Understanding the internal diversity within worldview groups; 

2. Understanding the external diversity across worldview groups; 

3. Recognizing the influence that socio-cultural, political, and economic aspects of society have on worldview groups, and vice versa, in the past and present;

4. Recognizing the need to include religious, spiritual, and non-religious worldviews in the full conversation; 

5. Recognizing that worldviews hold a significant personal meaning to the religious, spiritual, and non-religiously affiliated individuals. This leads us to discuss these worldviews from an individual or community’s distinct lens and not from the worldview of another person/group, and know that individuals who share the same worldview may have diverse beliefs, expressions, interpretations, and terminology to describe it based on a number of factors (such as personal circumstance, place, political context, etc.).

Developing civic religious literacy can empower individuals and organizations to engage better with members of their society. Specific economic, political, social, and legal reasons for the importance of religious literacy in Canada today are listed on this page: Why civic religious literacy?

To learn more about religious literacy in Canada, please email info@ccrl-clrc.ca, or read about it in our publication below. CCRL’s approach to civic religious literacy is heavily informed by the work of the scholars listed at the bottom of this page.

JBV article

To understand the CCRL approach in our work, including our work alongside community leaders, elders, and knowledge keepers from each local community, please visit the Our work page. 


Crisp, B. R. (Ed.) (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work. Routledge International Handbooks. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Dinham, A. & M. Francis. (2015). Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice. Policy Press.

Eck, D. L. (2006). “What is Pluralism?” The Pluralism Project: Harvard University. https://pluralism.org/about

Eck, D. L. (n.d.) “From Diversity to Pluralism.” The Pluralism Project: Harvard University. http://pluralism.org/encounter/todays-challenges/from-diversity-to-pluralism/

Jackson, R. (2014). Signposts – Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious worldviews in intercultural education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Lester, E. (2013). Teaching about religions: A democratic approach for public schoolsAnn Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Miedema, S. (2013). Coming Out Religiously! Religion and Worldview as an Integral Part of the Social and Public Domain. Religious Education, 108(3), 236-240.

Moore, D. (2007). Overcoming religious illiteracy: A cultural studies approach to the study of religion in secondary education. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Nesbitt, E. (1993). Gender and Religious Tradition: The Role-Learning of British Hindu Children. Gender and Education, 5(1), 81–91.

Prothero, S. (2009). Religious literacy: What every American needs to know–and doesn’t. Harper Collins.