When it comes to the place of religion in Québec, and in particular the secularism of the State, points of view appear to be highly polarized. Yet there are convergences in the perceptions of religion among Quebecers of Catholic background. For example, the place of Catholic culture in family heritage and views on spirituality prove to be quite homogeneous across generations, observed Stéphanie Tremblay, a sociologist and professor in the Department of sciences des religions at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
The researcher and her team analyzed the religious trajectories of 41 people aged 27 to 66, looking at their religious heritage, their conception of spirituality and their views on the debate surrounding secularism. Catholic rituals and memories from childhood were all described in the same way and reflected a role in consolidating the family unit. All participants also used a very similar lexical field with regard to spirituality, referring in particular to the inner self and freedom of choice. In addition, several sources of inspiration outside Catholicism were cited to describe their spirituality.
It is when issues of secularism are raised that the generational divide seems more pronounced. Among participants from the baby boomer generation, religion is seen as belonging in the private sphere while the public sphere should be based on the sharing of common values, which corresponds to a cultural vision of secularism. For Generation Y, secularism is seen more from an ethical point of view, with an emphasis on freedom of choice and religious symbols as part of an individual’s identity. This qualitative analysis has revealed points of rupture in the religiosity of Quebecers that are not necessarily irreconcilable, notes the researcher. The presentation of nuanced positions could help to elucidate the foundations of these disagreements in the debate on secularism.
Tremblay, S. (2022). La laïcité dans l’imaginaire religieux des Québécois, dans Laniel, J.-F. et J.-P. Perreault (dir.). La laïcité du Québec au miroir de sa religiosité. Québec : PUL (chap. 1).