A fellow TA member recently asked me if I have found a difference in religiosity between Newfoundland and Alberta, Canada. In answering his question, I began thinking and talking about something I had never given any thought to in the past, as if it was a part of my life but I had never stopped to notice. I'd like to share my response, and ask how others feel about it, and if anyone has ever had a similar experience?
I am fortunate enough to not often find myself surrounded by people or situations that deal with religious matters (directly, as way too much of our society today is indirectly based on religion), so I cannot say I have a lot of experience with religion in either province. The only difference I can really see is diversity. In Newfoundland, there is very little ethnic diversity, so the majority of people consider themselves Christian (I say consider, because many use it as a label because their parents or grandparents are Christian, but they do not in fact practice the religion). It wasn't until I ventured to Alberta that I was exposed to a variety of religions and ethnicities. I had learned about different religions in school, but that was as far as it went.
Here in Fort McMurray, there are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, Sikhs, etc. There are many different churches, schools, organizations, etc., based on different religions. One good thing I have noticed is that, for a community with so much diversity, people tend to be very accepting and respectful of others, despite their differing religious beliefs. It is not uncommon for children and adults to have friends of various backgrounds and beliefs, and for the most part it seems to work quite fine. The community has a multicultural society, and holds many activities and functions that invite everyone to get together and learn about their neighbors' customs and lifestyles. Outdoor fairs and events always include entertainment, food and activites from many different cultures, and people generally tend to enjoy and embrace the immense diversity (especially children, as one would expect).
In my hometown of Grand Falls Windsor, Newfoundland, our community was divided amongst Christian denominations. We had a catholic school system, a protestant school system, and a pentecostal school system (as well as churches). For a community based on one religion, there sure was a lot of segregation, especially within the school systems. The catholic and protestant schools were always "against" one another, and there was often a lot of arguing and fighting amongst children from different schools (especially with the town had one bussing system for both). The pentecostal school systems was separate entirely, and oftentimes you grew up down the street from someone you didn't even know simply because they were pentecostal and you were catholic. Though this mostly seemed to happen amongst the children and teenagers, it was learned from the parents, who held these views and expressed them to their children.
I am not sure if I went off on a tangent here or not, to be honest I never realized these differences until I started writing this...and it's really got me thinking! I guess I should thank you for your question!