Facing the Other
Religious and Community Leaders’ Negotiations of Religious Difference in Hobart, Tasmania
This article examines religious and community leaders’ perceptions of diversity and the ways in which they, and their communities, negotiate difference. Hobart, in Tasmania, Australia, is experiencing growing religious and ethnic diversity that is posing challenges for existing faith communities. The data consists of twelve in-depth interviews with Hobart’s religious leaders in which participants described two modes of negotiating difference: seeking sameness and agreeing to disagree. These modes of negotiation are positive examples of Lori Beaman’s (2014) understanding of agonistic respect in processes of “deep equality”. Growing diversity is, however, causing tensions for some communities, most notably conservative Christians in this study, who perceived growing hostility towards Christianity from secular society. Social issues, including marriage equality, have heightened tensions between conservative Christians and anti-religious Nones (Not Religious). I argue that social cohesion is reliant upon a commitment to liberal democratic values. This commitment provides the capacity for individuals to live with sometimes confronting difference that in turn underlies the celebration of diversity and difference in multiculturalism and pluralism.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2017 2016 Census Data Reveals “No Religion” is Rising Fast. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Online: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyReleaseDate/7E65A144540551D7CA258148000E2B85 (accessed May 28, 2018)
Beaman, Lori G. 2014 Deep Equality as an Alternative to Accommodation and Tolerance. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 27(2): 89–111.
2017 Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198803485.001.0001
Beauvais, Caroline, and Jane Jenson 2002 Social Cohesion: Updating the State of Research. CPRN Discussion Paper. Canadian Policy Research Networks. Ottowa.
Bouma, Gary 2006 Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1558/arsr.v20i2.243
Bouma, G. D., and Anna Halafoff 2017 Australia’s Changing Religious Profile: Views from the 2016 Census. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 30(2): 129–43. https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.34826
Butler, Judith 2004 Precarious Life. London: Verso.
Calma, Tom 2007 Multiculturalism: A Position Paper by the Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Online: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/racial_discrimination/multiculturalism/multiculturalism2007.pdf (accessed May 30, 2018)
Connolly, William 2005 Pluralism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Dempsey, Kenneth 1990 Smalltown: A Study of Social Inequality, Cohesion and Belonging. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Etzioni, Amitai 1988 The Moral Dimension. New York: Free Press.
Ezzy, Douglas 2013 Minimising Religious Conflict and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act in Victoria, Australia. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 26(2): 198–215. https://doi.org/10.1558/arsr.v26i2.198
Halafoff, Anna 2015 Education about Religions and Worldviews: Promoting Intercultural and Interreligious Understanding in Secular Societies. Journal of Intercultural Studies 36(3): 362–79. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315544434
Jacob, Herbert 1992 The Elusive Shadow of the Law. Law and Society Review 26(3): 565–90.
Jenson, Jane 1998 Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research. Ottawa: Family Network.
Jupp, James N., and Emma Dawson 2007 Social Cohesion in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jupp, James, and Michael Cline (eds) 2011 Multiculturalism and Integration: A Harmonious Relationship, for the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Canberra, ACT: ANU E Press.
Kearns, Ade, and Ray Forrest 2000 Social Cohesion and Multilevel Governance. Urban Studies 37(5): 995–1017. https://doi.org/10.1080/00420980050011208
Malik, Kenin 2002 Against Multiculturalism. Pandeamonium. Online: https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/523/against-multiculturalism (accessed July 27, 2019).
Mason, Michael, Andrew Singleton, and Ruth Webber 2007 The Spirit of Generation Y: Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia. Melbourne: John Garrat.
Modood, Tariq 2007 Multiculturalism. Cambridge: Polity.
Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart 2004 Sacred and Secular. In Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, by Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, xvii–xviii. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-13213-2_98
Parsons, Talcott 1968 The Structure of Social Action. New York: Free Press.
Slattery, Martin 2003 Key Ideas in Sociology. Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
Wise, Amanda, and Selvaraj Velayutham (eds) 2009 Everyday Multiculturalism. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.