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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Infidels and the Damn Churches

Irreligion and Religion in Settler British Columbia

British Columbia is at the forefront of a secularizing movement in the English-speaking world. Nearly half its residents claim no religious affiliation, and the province has the highest rate of unbelief or religious indifference in Canada. Infidels and the Damn Churches explores the historical roots of this phenomenon. Lynne Marks reveals that class and racial tensions fuelled irreligion in frontier BC, a world populated by embattled ministers, militant atheists, turn-of-the-century New Agers, rough-living miners, Asian immigrants, and church-going settlers. This nuanced study of mobility, masculinity, and family in settler BC offers new insights into the beginnings of what has become an increasingly dominant secular worldview across Canada.


336 pages


Table of Contents

Introduction: Leaving God Behind?

1 A Godless Province? Counting the Infidels and the Indifferent

2 Pie in the Sky When You Die: Political and Cultural Challenges to Religion

3 Manly White Men, Fuzzy Fidelity, and Practical Christians: Blurred Boundaries of Belief and Chasms of Racialized Difference

4 Sundays Are So Different Here: Communities in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia

5 Could Sodom Be Worse? Christianity, Moral Reform, and the Godless of Vancouver and Victoria

6 Under Siege: Non-Christians, Racialized Groups, and White Women’s Rights

7 Subtler and More Dangerous Forms of Error: Metaphysical Religions

Conclusion: Godless Past and Present

Appendix: Tables

Notes; Bibliography; Index

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