Ambitious in scope, Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity considers some central concepts in the sociology and history of religion and, simultaneously, how Canada's religious experience is distinctive in the modern world. The contributors to this volume challenge the institutional approach that stresses a strict division between "church" and "state", which seems inappropriate in late-modern and post-modern scenarios. Rather, the authors favour an interpretation that is marked more by fluidity than fixity.
Canada, which stands somewher between the largely secularised Europe and the relatively religious United States, is well situated as a testing ground for the leading conceptions of the fate of religion in modern and postmodern societies. The book focuses mainly on Christianity, looking at what is distinctive about Canadian situations, and discusses the concomitant decline of some religious groups and the ongoing vitality of others in an increasingly multi-faith and globalized society. The emergence of constitutional rights and identity politics have both contributed to the transforming relationship between church and state and the contributors to this volume pay special attention to the political and social attitudes of religious groups and to the consequences of these attitudes. Subjects covered include: the role of God in the Canadian Constitution; anglophone religious responses to the referendum crisis of 1995; evangelical subcultures in Canada and the United States; and specifically postmodern topics such as the body and consumerism.