The Cultural, the Nominal, and the Secular: The Social Reality of Religious Identity Among Sri Lankan Tamil Youth in Canada

  • Amarnath AmarasingamEmail author
Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE, volume 2)


This chapter builds on important insights presented by David Voas and Abby Day (Recognizing secular Christians: Toward an unexcluded middle in the study of religion, ARDA Guiding Paper Series. State College: The Association of Religion Data Archives at The Pennsylvania State University., 2010) on the study of the “unexcluded middle” as well as earlier studies by Demerath and others on the notion of “cultural religion”. As Demerath (Social Compass 47(1):136, 2010) points out, the notion of cultural religion is “a way of being religiously connected without being religiously active.” Drawing on research conducted with the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Canada, I seek to interrogate the question of nominal or cultural religion further, focusing particularly on changing religious identities among Tamil youth. I analyse the impact of variables such as social movement involvement, nationalism, and ethnic allegiance(s) on religious identity, and argue, for instance, that higher commitment to nationalist ideologies may influence how closely people identify with their religion. The chapter points to how religious identities shift according to a variety of factors; even those who may self-identify at particular instances in time as belonging to a specific religion may fluctuate in the degrees to which they identify as such.


Social Movement Ethnic Identity Golden Rule Religious Identity Religious Change 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Postdoctoral Fellow, Resilience Research CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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