Ethnic minority churches: The case of the Canadian Chinese Christian churches in Ottawa.

Ethnic minority churches: The case of the Canadian Chinese Christian churches in Ottawa.

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Title: Ethnic minority churches: The case of the Canadian Chinese Christian churches in Ottawa.
Author: Li, Qiang.
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the social and cultural conditions which have contributed to the rise of the Chinese Christian community in Canada, and more specifically the capital region, and the kind of religious life that evolved within that community. The author draws on extensive fieldwork, offers insights into the beliefs and practices of this little-documented section of the Canadian Chinese community. A sociological survey of the nine Chinese Christian churches in Ottawa shows that this community has been deeply influenced by Canadian social policies and Chinese immigration patterns. Cultural variables such as dialect, place of origin, and social class have also shaped the formation and the growth of Canadian Chinese Christianity. Contemporary Canadian Chinese Christian churches primarily meet the interests and needs of middle-class Chinese immigrants, and have become the most cohesive and active ethnic community organizations within the Canadian Chinese community. On the one hand, Canadian Chinese Christianity could be seen as tool for cultural adaptation. It provides the Chinese members with a set of values and Christian beliefs which they see as similar to the basic beliefs of the host culture; the institution and operation of the churches allow their Chinese members to become accustomed to the administration and political patterns of the host society, and to prepare for entering mainstream society. On the other hand, Canadian Chinese Christianity could be presented as an "ethnic community" which helps the members preserve their Chinese identity defined in cultural terms, that is language, cultural heritage, and community ("family"). The Chinese churches feature a conservative Confucian Christian theology, where the Christian values are seen as compatible with Chinese values. Both perspectives are useful in demonstrating that, in the case of the Chinese Christian churches, within the Canadian multicultural society, ethnic identity can be selectively reconstructed, actively and pragmatically pursued, neither as assimilation, nor as preservation, but as accommodation.
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/9308

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