Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History Post-confederation (1867-)

Towards a Godless Dominion

Unbelief in Interwar Canada

by (author) Elliot Hanowski

Publisher
McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Category
Post-Confederation (1867-), History
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780228018834
    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
    $44.95
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780228018827
    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
    $140.00
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780228019572
    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
    $44.95

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Description

In recent surveys, one in four Canadians say they have no religion. A century ago Canada was widely considered to be a Christian nation, and the vast majority of Canadians claimed they were devoutly religious. But some were determined to resist. In the 1920s and ’30s, groups of militant unbelievers formed across Canada to push back against the dominance of religion.

Towards a Godless Dominion explores both anti-religious activism and the organized opposition unbelievers faced from Christian Canada during the interwar period. Despite Christianity’s prominence, anti-religious ideas were propagated by lectures in theatres, through newspapers, and out on the streets. Secularist groups in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver actively tried to win people away from religious belief. In the first two cities, they were met with stiff repression by the state, which convicted unbelievers of blasphemous libel, broke up their meetings, and banned atheistic literature from circulating. In the latter two cities unbelievers met social disapproval rather than official persecution. Looking at interwar controversies around religion, such as arguments about faith healing and fundamentalist campaigns against teaching evolution, Elliot Hanowski shows how unbelievers were able to use these conflicts to get their skeptical message across to the public.

Challenging the stereotype of Canada as a tolerant, secular nation, Towards a Godless Dominion returns to a time when intolerant forms of Christianity ruled a country that was considered more religious than the United States.

About the author

Elliot Hanowski is an academic librarian at the University of Manitoba.

Elliot Hanowski's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Engaging, insightful, well-written, and solidly researched. Elliot Hanowski adds a new dimension to our understanding of religion and irreligion in twentieth-century Canada. The book further expands our knowledge of the religious spectrum in Canadian society, importantly deflecting attention away from the historic mainstream churches and beliefs.” David B. Marshall, University of Calgary and author of Secularizing the Faith: Canadian Protestant Clergy and the Crisis of Belief, 1850–1940

Towards a Godless Dominion reminds us that repression works. Elites remain as ready and able as ever to stifle the kinds of speech that they find threatening. It takes courage or at least eccentricity to resist them.” Literature Review of Canada