100 books like Religion and Public Life in Canada

By Marguerite Van Die (editor),

Here are 100 books that Religion and Public Life in Canada fans have personally recommended if you like Religion and Public Life in Canada. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Church in the Canadian Era

Mark A. Noll Author Of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

From my list on the history of Christianity in Canada.

Who am I?

Instead of experiencing a mid-life academic crisis, I discovered Canada. Through George Rawlyk, a senior historian at Queen’s University in Ontario, and then through many fruitful contacts with older and younger Canadians as well as frequent visits north of the border, I became increasingly intrigued by comparisons with U.S. history. Most of my specialized scholarship has treated American developments, but I have been able to explain those matters more perceptively by keeping Canada’s alternative history in mind. The chance to introduce undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame to Canadian history provided a regular stimulus to think about a common subject (Christianity) taking somewhat different shapes in the two nations.

Mark's book list on the history of Christianity in Canada

Mark A. Noll Why did Mark love this book?

In the sixteen years between this book’s two editions, religion in Canada underwent a revolution. John Webster Grant’s history of developments in Canada’s first century after Confederation (1867-1967) sparkled with wit, limpid prose, and telling incidents succinctly portrayed. His deep research in French sources, as well as English, made for an exceptionally well-balanced account of both Protestants and Catholics, both Quebec and the rest of Canada. The new chapter he added in 1988 was just as informative, perceptive, and wise about the difficult days for the churches that began so suddenly in the 1960s.

By John Webster Grant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Church in the Canadian Era as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Webster Grant?s The Church in the Canadian Era was originally published in 1972. It remains a classic and important text on the history of the Canadian churches since Confederation. This updated edition has been expanded to include a chapter on recent history as well as a new bibliographical survey. Its approach is ecumenical, taking account not only of the whole range of Christian denominations but of sources in both national languages.


Book cover of Ravished by the Spirit: Religious Revivals, Baptists, and Henry Alline

Mark A. Noll Author Of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

From my list on the history of Christianity in Canada.

Who am I?

Instead of experiencing a mid-life academic crisis, I discovered Canada. Through George Rawlyk, a senior historian at Queen’s University in Ontario, and then through many fruitful contacts with older and younger Canadians as well as frequent visits north of the border, I became increasingly intrigued by comparisons with U.S. history. Most of my specialized scholarship has treated American developments, but I have been able to explain those matters more perceptively by keeping Canada’s alternative history in mind. The chance to introduce undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame to Canadian history provided a regular stimulus to think about a common subject (Christianity) taking somewhat different shapes in the two nations.

Mark's book list on the history of Christianity in Canada

Mark A. Noll Why did Mark love this book?

In his years as a historian at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) Rawlyk inspired a wealth of solid writing on Canada’s religious history, while also inaugurating an ambitious series in religious history for the McGill-Queen’s University press that continues to this day. Rawlyk’s own research detailed the religious history of the Maritime Provinces, especially the dramatic, long-term impact of radical Christian revivals in the period of the American Revolution that were spearheaded by Henry Alline. A special feature of this book is the shrewd assessment of how Canada’s early religious history differed from parallel developments in the United States.

By George A. Rawlyk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ravished by the Spirit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rawlyk sees the Baptists of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as reaching their zenith during the latter half of the nineteenth century. He makes some controversial comments on the differences between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Baptists of both the present and past century. Ravished by the Spirit does not deal merely with a distnt historical past but raises some fundamental and disconcerting questions about the vulnerability of the Baptist denomination in contemporary Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.


Book cover of The Catholic Origins of Quebec's Quiet Revolution, 1931-1970, Volume 2

Mark A. Noll Author Of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

From my list on the history of Christianity in Canada.

Who am I?

Instead of experiencing a mid-life academic crisis, I discovered Canada. Through George Rawlyk, a senior historian at Queen’s University in Ontario, and then through many fruitful contacts with older and younger Canadians as well as frequent visits north of the border, I became increasingly intrigued by comparisons with U.S. history. Most of my specialized scholarship has treated American developments, but I have been able to explain those matters more perceptively by keeping Canada’s alternative history in mind. The chance to introduce undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame to Canadian history provided a regular stimulus to think about a common subject (Christianity) taking somewhat different shapes in the two nations.

Mark's book list on the history of Christianity in Canada

Mark A. Noll Why did Mark love this book?

With deep research in both French and English sources, Gauvreau offers a convincing explanation for the dramatic flight from traditional Catholicism that occurred in Quebec during the 1960s. He shows that young reforming Catholics, whose number included the future prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, successfully critiqued the stultifying conservatism, unthinking nationalism, and intellectual sterility of the province’s traditional alignment of church and state. Gauvreau also details the reasons why the reformers’ hopes for a reformed, but reinvigorated Catholicism were frustrated by trajectories they themselves had set in motion. The result was to transform Canada’s most actively religious province into its most secular, and to do so in less than a decade.

By Michael Gauvreau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Catholic Origins of Quebec's Quiet Revolution, 1931-1970, Volume 2 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cogent study that investigates the Catholic origins of Quebec's Quiet Revolution.


Book cover of A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada

Mark A. Noll Author Of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

From my list on the history of Christianity in Canada.

Who am I?

Instead of experiencing a mid-life academic crisis, I discovered Canada. Through George Rawlyk, a senior historian at Queen’s University in Ontario, and then through many fruitful contacts with older and younger Canadians as well as frequent visits north of the border, I became increasingly intrigued by comparisons with U.S. history. Most of my specialized scholarship has treated American developments, but I have been able to explain those matters more perceptively by keeping Canada’s alternative history in mind. The chance to introduce undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame to Canadian history provided a regular stimulus to think about a common subject (Christianity) taking somewhat different shapes in the two nations.

Mark's book list on the history of Christianity in Canada

Mark A. Noll Why did Mark love this book?

The United Church of Canada began in 1925 with the merger of the nation’s Methodists, Congregationalists, union churches in the West, and two-thirds of its Presbyterians. The church’s early leaders aspired to guide all of Protestant Canada, indeed the whole nation, in realizing the best of activistic Methodism, theologically consequential Presbyterianism, and the social potential of ecumenical cooperation. Airhart’s empathetic study shows how powerfully the United Church contributed to moving Canada in the direction of humane social development, but then how internal divisions and the growing secularism of Canadian society frustrated the grand nationalistic and spiritual visions with which the church began.

By Phyllis D Airhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Church with the Soul of a Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"As Canadian as the maple leaf" is how one observer summed up the United Church of Canada after its founding in 1925. But was this Canadian-made church flawed in its design, as critics have charged? A Church with the Soul of a Nation explores this question by weaving together the history of the United Church with a provocative analysis of religion and cultural change. The story begins in the aftermath of Confederation, when the prospects of building a Christian nation persuaded a group of Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian leaders to set aside denominational differences and focus instead on shared beliefs.…


Book cover of Pentecostal Republic: Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Who am I?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Scholars of Africa have devoted tremendous attention to Pentecostal Christianity in recent years – and Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic is the best treatment of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Obadare teases out the interplay between Pentecostalism and politics, a relationship that now reaches the highest levels of Nigeria’s political life. The book is a crucial for understanding the elections of 1999 and ever since, and will remain important for understanding Nigerian politics as elections approach in 2023.

By Ebenezer Obadare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pentecostal Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout its history, Nigeria has been plagued by religious divisions. Tensions have only intensified since the restoration of democracy in 1999, with the divide between Christian south and Muslim north playing a central role in the country's electoral politics, as well as manifesting itself in the religious warfare waged by Boko Haram. Through the lens of Christian-Muslim struggles for supremacy, Ebenezer Obadare charts the turbulent course of democracy in the Nigerian Fourth Republic, exploring the key role religion has played in ordering society. He argues the rise of Pentecostalism is a force focused on appropriating state power, transforming the dynamics…


Book cover of Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine

Christina Ward Author Of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

From my list on the hidden history of America.

Who am I?

For me, history is always about individuals; what they think and believe and how those ideas motivate their actions. By relegating our past to official histories or staid academic tellings we deprive ourselves of the humanity of our shared experiences. As a “popular historian” I use food to tell all the many ways we attempt to “be” American. History is for everyone, and my self-appointed mission is to bring more stories to readers! These recommendations are a few stand-out titles from the hundreds of books that inform my current work on how food and religion converge in America. You’ll have to wait for Holy Food to find out what I’ve discovered.

Christina's book list on the hidden history of America

Christina Ward Why did Christina love this book?

Anna Della Subin’s quiet triumph of a history expands our focus beyond the United States, but we feel the impact and meaning to and in America. In Accidental Gods, she masterfully explores—opposite of self-appointed messiahs—what happens when deification is thrust upon someone. In doing so, she uncovers the bizarre characters and absurd events that lead to banal and sometimes cruel outcomes. The book transcends the facts of history and becomes a meditation on the many ways to be human.

By Anna Della Subin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Accidental Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative history of race, empire and myth, told through the stories of men who have been worshipped as gods - from Columbus to Prince Philip

Spanning the globe and five centuries, Accidental Gods introduces us to a new pantheon: of man-gods, deified politicians and imperialists, militants, mystics and explorers. From the conquistadors setting foot in the New World to Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, elevated by a National Geographic article from emperor to messiah for the Rastafari faith, to the unlikely officers hailed as gods during the British Raj, this endlessly curious and revelatory account chronicles an impulse towards deification…


Book cover of A Flag for Sunrise

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Who am I?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

I think Robert Stone was one of the greatest American novelists of the recent era, a man with a profound concern for how political situations affect the individual. I love Stone’s ability to delve into complex situations.

This is fiction, unlike the last two recommendations mentioned above, and takes place in Central America during the Seventies. I love books about political situations, and I love novels set in other countries. Stone is a master of both.

He was also a humble, good man, though maybe I’m not completely objective because he provided a generous blurb for my first novel. I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him after my novel was published, and I found him to be brilliant, funny, modest, and just a fun person to be around.

Like Dostoevsky, he was able to delve into deep matters by telling a great story with amazing characters.…

By Robert Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Flag for Sunrise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An emotional, dramatic and philosophical novel about Americans drawn into a small Central American country on the brink of revolution.


Book cover of Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I always tell my students that one thing that I love about being a social scientist is that it’s as much art as it is science. Oliver and Wood exemplify the creative side of social psychology as they study how people are intuitionists or rationalists.

My favorite part is the questions that they designed to measure whether people are “magical thinkers,” that is, are they more concerned about symbolic harm than actual harm: “Would you rather stick your hands in a bowl of cockroaches or stab a photo of your family six times?”

I like to think of myself as rational, but there’s no way you could make me stab a photo of my family! I’ll take the cockroaches, thank you…

By J. Eric Oliver, Thomas J. Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enchanted America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

America is in civic chaos, its politics rife with conspiracy theories and false information. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, while scientists, universities, and news organizations are viewed with increasing mistrust. Its citizens reject scientific evidence on climate change and vaccinations while embracing myths of impending apocalypse. And then there is Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who won the support of millions of conservative Christians despite having no moral or political convictions. What is going on?

The answer, according to J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, can be found in the most important force shaping American politics today:…


Book cover of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon

Khalil F. Osman Author Of Sectarianism in Iraq: The Making of State and Nation Since 1920

From my list on sectarianism in the Middle East.

Who am I?

I’ve had a diverse work experience, having taught political science, and worked as a journalist and UN official. My interest in sectarianism in the Arab world grew from my work as a journalist covering Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs and as a UN official in Iraq. Working in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion, I witnessed firsthand how the sectarian violence that gripped Iraq highlighted the failure of social integration in nurturing a national identity. Scholarly work on sectarianism in the region was focused on Lebanon. In addressing this scholarly gap, I combined my academic training in political science, extensive knowledge of Islamic history, and decades-long fieldwork and life experiences in the region.

Khalil's book list on sectarianism in the Middle East

Khalil F. Osman Why did Khalil love this book?

Drawing on a vast array of primary archival sources and secondary writings, Ussama Makdisi provides an original analytical historical account of the origins of sectarianism in Lebanon. He traces the roots of the atavistic sectarian violence that gripped Ottoman Mount Lebanon in 1860. His narrative refutes widespread arguments making a case for the primordial nature of sectarian identities in Lebanon. Instead, he argues that sectarianism in Lebanon is a byproduct of modernity and modernization. Makdisi shows that sectarianism in Lebanon is a modern nineteenth-century phenomenon linked to the confluence of various historical developments, including the introduction of Ottoman reforms known as Tanzimat, diffusion of European ideas of nationalism, the Ottoman Empire’s integration into the world capitalist market, and colonial meddling in the internal affairs of the Sick Man of Europe.

By Ussama Makdisi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Culture of Sectarianism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focusing on Ottoman Lebanon, Ussama Makdisi shows how sectarianism was a manifestation of modernity that transcended the physical boundaries of a particular country. His study challenges those who have viewed sectarian violence as an Islamic response to westernization or simply as a product of social and economic inequities among religious groups. The religious violence of the nineteenth century, which culminated in sectarian mobilizations and massacres in 1860, was a complex, multilayered, subaltern expression of modernization, he says, not a primordial reaction to it. Makdisi argues that sectarianism represented a deliberate mobilization of religious identities for political and social purposes. The…


Book cover of The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945-1980

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Author Of Religion, Ethnonationalism, and Antisemitism in the Era of the Two World Wars

From my list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany.

Who are we?

We are historians of twentieth-century Germany who investigate the relationship between church and state from 1918-1945. We are fascinated by the choices of Christian leaders during this time as they negotiated the challenges of living and leading under National Socialism. In our writing, we seek to understand the connections between Christian antisemitism and National Socialists’ racial-based exclusionary ethnonationalism and antisemitism and seek to understand how religious communities navigate ethical and practical challenges of living through political upheaval and fascism.

Kevin's book list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Why did Kevin love this book?

Ruff has produced a tour de force examination of the behind-the-scenes historiography of the Catholic Church in Nazi Germany. A deeply and richly researched study, it enables both specialists and non-specialists alike to comprehend the complex and tempestuous writing of the history of the Catholic Church’s choices during Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s years in power. In particular, Ruff delves into the storm over Rolf Hochhuth’s controversial play, The Deputy, to help us understand the current controversies over the choices of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.  

By Mark Edward Ruff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945-1980 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Were Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in Germany unduly singled out after 1945 for their conduct during the National Socialist era? Mark Edward Ruff explores the bitter controversies that broke out in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945 to 1980 over the Catholic Church's relationship to the Nazis. He explores why these cultural wars consumed such energy, dominated headlines, triggered lawsuits and required the intervention of foreign ministries. He argues that the controversies over the church's relationship to National Socialism were frequently surrogates for conflicts over how the church was to position itself in modern society -…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Canada, Christianity, and the history of Christianity?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Canada, Christianity, and the history of Christianity.

Canada Explore 364 books about Canada
Christianity Explore 583 books about Christianity
The History Of Christianity Explore 33 books about the history of Christianity