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73nd Annual Summer Conference, August 5–8, 2004

God’s Back — with a Vengeance

Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State

In recent years, strong religious allegiances have presented increasing challenges to secular states committed to pluralism. The 2004 annual Couchiching Conference – from August 5th to 8th – examined these challenges and the roots of the religious revival in many parts of the world. Discussions included religious extremism and its relationship to terrorism, the rising influence of more extreme religious beliefs in the governments of some secular states, and the tension between individual rights and collective religious rights in pluralist democracies.

Some photos of delegates at the 2004 conference have been posted.

The CIIA International Journal

The International Journal, a quarterly publication of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, has published excerpts from the 2004 summer conference, “God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism, and the Secular State.” If you liked them in person, here’s an opportunity to read again their thoughtful approaches to the nexus of religion and politics. Karen Armstrong, Robert Orsi, Ali Jimale Ahmed, Katherine Marshall, Melissa Rogers, and Senator Mobina Jaffer have all published in Volume 59, Number 4 of the IJ. You can order you own copy of the IJ. It’s available from the Canadian Institute of International Affairs by phone at 1-800-668-2442, or email at

Vision TV Broadcast Schedule

Vision TV filmed interviews with six of the speakers at this summer’s conference (Karen Armstrong, Richard Land, Jerrold Post, Katherine Marshall, Luis E. Lugo, Merve Kavakci). These interviews will be shown as segments on various shows on the network’s current affairs program 360 Vision, whose season première airs on October 20, at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET, and repeats on Thursdays, starting Oct. 21, at 10 p.m. ET.

Vision TV’s award-winning flagship series 360 Vision is the only current affairs show on national television devoted to exploring the role that faith and spirituality play in people’s lives today. 360 Vision earned Platinum Best of Show in the News Magazine/Interview category at the 2004 Aurora Awards Film and Video competition, which recognizes excellence in commercials, cable programming and documentaries.

Each week, 360 Vision features in-depth documentary reports, as well as interviews with leading contemporary thinkers on spirituality. This is taken from their website: “The series will also present interviews with prominent figures such as Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and author of The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Islam and Christianity; Jerrold Post, a CIA veteran and expert on political psychology who has published widely on the subject of terrorism; and Richard Land, one of the leaders of the 16-million-strong Southern Baptist Convention in the U.S.”

The show on Oct. 20 will include an interview with Karen Armstrong, taped at Couchiching. The following week, the Oct. 27th show will include an interview with Richard Land, also taped at Couchiching.

CPAC Broadcast Schedule and Conference Tapes

The broadcast schedule has been posted. The first session airs on August 23, and the remainder over the following several weeks. All the sessions have at least three replays and will play again over the coming months. Viewing schedules are always available on the CPAC website at (Please note that the broadcast schedule is subject to change without notice.)

Some of you have also enquired about purchasing tapes of the conference. That is done directly with CPAC through their website at


Media Summary 
Reading List 

Speaker notes are posted as they become available.


Welcome to the 2003 Conference
DAVID McGOWN, President CIPA (letter to delegates)

Contemporary Voices: The VisionTV Address
on Religion and Public Life

Session Summary 


Karen Armstrong has written a number of books that look at the role of religion in the modern world, including The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Islam and Christianity and the international best-seller The History of God. A former Roman Catholic nun and instructor at London’s Leo Baeck College for the Training of Rabbis. Ms. Armstrong has also assisted with a number of TV series on religion for PBS and Britain’s Channel four. We are confident that she will set the stage for what promises to be an extremely exciting conference.


Clarification of the Issues
Session Summary 

Left to right: Alan Pearson, Ali Jimale Ahmed and Robert Orsi

The morning after the keynote address, two thinkers will examine the basic concepts under consideration – fundamentalism, secularism, terrorism – from different perspectives. The panel will discuss issues such as how strong religious belief manifest itself in different contexts and secularism and its connection with the Enlightenment
ROBERT ORSI, Professor, School of Divinity, Harvard University (speaker notes)
Dr. Orsi will be speaking on the Friday morning panel that will look at our understandings of the history and meaning of fundamentalism, secularism and pluralism. A professor in the School of Divinity at Harvard University, Dr. Orsi works on issues such as religion in the industrial and post-industrial city, religion and immigration and migration, and religious responses to suffering and pain.
ALI JIMALE AHMED, Professor, Queen’s College and the City of New York Graduate Center (speaker notes)
Ali Jimale Ahmed is a cultural critic, poet, scholar, and short story writer. He teaches Comparative Literature at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A former chair of Comparative Literature at Queens College, Professor Ahmed teaches courses in African, Middle Eastern, and European literatures. His poetry and short stories have been translated into several languages, including Japanese and the languages spoken in the former Yugoslavia. His books include The Invention of Somalia (Red Sea Press, 1995), Daybreak Is Near: Literature, Clans, and the Nation-State in Somalia (Red Sea Press, 1996), and Fear Is a Cow (Red Sea Press, 2002).

The Causes of the Religious Revival

Left to right: Joan Jenkinson, Peter Beyer, Katherine Marshall and Jerrold Post

The panel will search for common denominators in many parts of the world. Questions under consideration include whether religious fundamentalism and the democratic state can co-exist; what are the contemporary pressures exerted by the former on the latter, and; under what conditions does religious fundamentalism become terrorism?
PETER BEYER, Professor, University of Ottawa (speaker notes)
Peter Beyer is Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. His publications include Religion and Globalization (Sage, 1994), Religion in the Process of Globalization (Ergon, 2001) and numerous articles in diverse journals and collected volumes. The former volume dealt in detail with contemporary religio-political movements in diverse parts of the world. His areas of specialization are religion and globalization, sociological theory of religion, and religion in Canada. He is currently completing another book on religion and globalization, and is conducting qualitative research into the religious lives and attitudes of second generation Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist youth in Canada. He has also recently completed a quantitative project on patterns of immigrant religious identification in Canada using Canadian census data. He is currently president of the Canadian Corporation for the Study of Religion / Corporation canadienne des sciences religieuses and a member of the executive board of the Société internationale de sociologie des religions / International Society for the Sociology of Religion.
, Director and Counselor to the President, World Bank (speaker notes)
Katherine Marshall is the Director for the Development Dialogue on Values and Ethics for the World Bank. She is currently responsible for the complex of issues turning around ethics, values, rights and faith in development work, and serves as Counselor to the President of the World Bank. Until September 2000 she was Director for Social Policy and Governance in the East Asia and Pacific Region, where she helped to lead and coordinate the World Bank’s work across the social sectors during the East Asia 1997-99 crisis. Ms. Marshall also served for many years as Country Director in the World Bank in the Africa region, focusing on the Sahel region, and on Southern Africa, and had assignments working on Eastern Africa and Latin America.
JERROLD POST, Professor of Psychiatry, Political Psychology and International Affairs
Dr. Post has devoted his entire career to the field of political psychology. Dr. Post came to George Washington University after a 21-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency where he founded and directed the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior. Dr. Post is a founding member of the International Society of Political Psychology, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow in the American College of Psychologists, and Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (1967). He has published widely on crisis decision-making, leadership, and on the psychology of political violence and terrorism, and recently has been addressing weapons of mass destruction terrorism: psychological incentives and constraints, as well as information systems terrorism.

Presentation: Annual Couchiching Award for Excellence in Public Policy LeadershipPresentation of the second Annual Couchiching Award for Excellence in Public Policy Leadership to JANE JACOBS
Jane Jacobs has been one of the world’s most influential spokespersons for cities and the rights of their citizens. A women with strong ideas who is not afraid to share them, whether or not they coincide with those of others in her field, she challenged existing theories that she believed had damaged the modern city. The award was accepted by Bobbi Speck on Ms. Jacob’s behalf. (acceptance remarks)

A Meeting of Minds: Iran and Israel

Left to right: David McGown, Candida Paltiel, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi and David Berlin

Close observers will compare the conflicts within these two societies in the hope that this comparison will throw light on the political situation in the Middle East as a whole.
David was born in Tel Aviv and served in the Israel Defence Force from 1970 to and including Yom Kippur war. He studied medicine at the University of Tel Aviv, left medicine and Israel for graduate school at the University of Chicago. He has been a writer, a journalist, taught at various colleges and universities, founded the Walrus magazine, and was in Israel last year as part of a DFAIT mission.
Candida is a filmmaker and producer. She has worked on a number of award-winning television documentary series (Up at Dawn, To Tell a Story, Acts of War, Heart of the System) and taught in the film program at Ryerson University between 1987 and 1995. In 2001 she was invited to launch the first screenwriting workshop in Honduras and co-wrote the feature film “Manati” with Honduran producer Marisela Bustillo. Currently, she is embarking on a documentary on the lives of three women spiritual leaders in Toronto and she is developing a film that examines the erosion and continuity of Zionist beliefs in light of realities in Israel. Candida lived in Jerusalem for 10 years. She received her BA in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Columbia University, NYC, in 1984. She is also Chair of Year Round Programming for the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs.
MOHAMAD TAVAKOLI-TARGHI, Professor, Illinois State University
Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi is a visiting Professor in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto and is a Professor at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and Historiography, in which he argues for a radical rewriting of Iranian history based on 18th and 19th-century Indo-Persian texts, showing how these relate to Indo-Iranian modernity


The Canadian Situation

Martin Cauchon
Jasmin Zine
Michael Adams

The panel will discuss whether a new interest in religious issues is triggering a reconsideration of Canadian traditions. The session will begin with some background poll information on what Canadians believe. Religious diversity, same-sex marriage, and the challenges of balancing collective and individual rights will also be discussed.
MICHAEL ADAMS, Founder and President of Environics Research Group Ltd.
Mr. Adams will open our Saturday morning panel on the Canadian situation. Mr. Adams, founder of Environics, and author of Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values and Sex in the Snow, will share with conference participants some of what he has documented about Canadian attitudes to religion.
MARTIN CAUCHON, Gowling, Lafleur Henderson LLP
JASMIN ZINE, Department of Women’s/Gender Studies, University of Toronto
Dr. Jasmin Zine teaches Gender and Islam in the Department of Women’s/Gender Studies at the University of Toronto and teaches graduate courses at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto) in the area of anti-racism education and decolonizing research methods. She has co-edited a special issue of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS) on women and Islam and has written journal articles in the area of Muslim women’s studies and Islamic Feminism. Dr. Zine will be addressing the proposal for developing shariah tribunals in Canada as a means for alternative dispute resolution.

Getting Down to Cases: France, Turkey and India

Left to right: Rinku Lamba, Jocelyn Bergener, Merve Kavakci and Harvey Simmons

Three experts describe the severe strains extremists are causing in these ostensibly secular countries and the way the societies are dealing with them. The session will be followed by discussion groups in which students from countries such as Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria and Honduras will act as guides.
HARVEY SIMMONS, Professor, York University (speaker notes)
Harvey Simmons is Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, York University. He is the author of four books, two on French politics and two on social policy in Ontario. He has published articles on politics and world affairs in scholarly journals and in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen.
RINKU LAMBA, Scholar, University of Toronto (speaker notes)
Rinku Lamba is a scholar from India whose research interest is in resolving some of the dilemmas arising from the accommodation of religous pluralism in India. She has a M.Phil (Politics) from Balliol College, University of Oxford Politics, a M.Phil (Political Science), Jawaharlal Nehru University and is presently reading for a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Toronto. Lamba has worked as a Research Associate with Professor Rajeev Bhargava on a project of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Delhi), relating to the debates in the Constituent Assembly of India. In India she has worked on a number of progressive causes: organizing and coordinated activities of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a socio-political movement opposed to big dams that displace human lives and wreak environmental damage; she initiated Sankalp, with a few students from JNU, a movement to impart literacy skills to poor children who work on campus; and she taught young Muslim women in the Sampradayikta Virodhi Andolan’s project to alleviate the plight of those ill-affected by religious riots in Delhi in 1994.
MERVE KAVAKCI, Former MP of Turkey
Merve Kavakci is a former Turkish Muslim Parliamentarian (a member of the Virtue Party) who was evicted from the Turkish Parliament for wearing a hijab (headscarf). She also lost her Turkish citizenship following the controversy. Currently, Kavakci is a visiting scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University. She holds an MPA from Harvard University and a B.S. in software engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her areas of expertise are the democratization of the Muslim world, contemporary Turkish politics, women in Islam, and Muslim women in politics. She now lives and teaches in Washington, DC
MODERATOR: JOCELYN BERGENER, Centre for Faith and the Media

Discussion Groups
Group leaders:

The American Religion

Left to right: Eric Koch, Luis Lugo, Melissa Rogers and Richard Land

Even though the Founding Father were products of the Enlightenment, American idealism has always had a strong religious component, perhaps never as strong as today. This will be one of many topics discussed by three American guests, in the light of the current election campaign.
RICHARD LAND, President & CEO, Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
Dr. Richard Land is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and represented Southern Baptists’ interests in the halls of Congress, before U.S. presidents, and in the major media. Dr. Land was recently appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has hosted For Faith & Family, For Faith & Family Insight, and his own show Richard Land Live! On these radio programs, Dr. Land speaks passionately and authoritatively on the social, ethical, and public policy issues facing the United States. He is the author of For Faith & Family: Changing America by Strengthening the Family that identifies timeless principles from God’s Word for changing America from the inside out – one family at a time.
LUIS E. LUGO, Director, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Luis E. Lugo became the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in January 2004. Luis also continues to serve as the director of the Religion program at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, a position he has held since 1997. Prior to joining the Trusts, he was a professor of political science for more than twelve years, teaching courses in international relations, Latin American politics, and religion and public policy. Among his published works are several edited volumes, including Religion, Public Life and the American Polity; and Sovereignty at the Crossroads? Morality and International Politics in the Post-Cold War Era. A native of Cuba, Luis is listed in Who’s Who Among Hispanic Americans.
MELISSA ROGERS, Visiting Professor, Religion and Public Policy, Wake Forest University
Melissa Rogers is a visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School. She has previously served as the founding executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. Rogers has written widely about the relationship between religion and government. Her recent writings include an essay on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and a chapter entitled, “The Breaking Points: Where Consensus Becomes Conflict,” in a volume entitled, Sacred Places, Civic Purposes: Should Government Help Faith-based Charity?. Rogers recently was recognized by National Journal as one of the church-state experts “politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue.”


Religion vs. Pluralism

Mobina Jaffer
David Novak and Robert Buckman

Voices are being raised demanding greater emphasis on religious values in our societies. Others fear that this may be divisive and difficult to reconcile with our pluralistic ideals. Three speakers will discuss whether such fears are justified.
ROBERT BUCKMAN, President, Humanist Association of Canada (presentation pdf)
Dr. Robert Buckman is President of the Humanist Association of Canada. Dr. Buckman is also is a medical oncologist at the Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Cancer Centre, and a professor at the University of Toronto. A Canadian and British TV/Radio personality for such programs as Vital Signs, Magic or Medicine, and Human Wildlife and has co-created, with British actor/writer John Cleese, a successful medical video series for patients coping with cancer. He is the author of twelve books, including Can We Be Good Without God?
MOBINA JAFFER, Senator (British Columbia)
DAVID NOVAK, Professor, University of Toronto
David Novak holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies as Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and is a member of University College and of the Joint Centre for Bioethics. He has lectured throughout North America, Europe, Israel, and South Africa and has served as a pulpit rabbi in several communities in the United States. He is involved in many associations and boards relating to religion and Judaism. David Novak is the author of eleven books, the latest being Covenantal Rights: A Study in Jewish Political Theory, which won the award of the American Academy of Religion for Abest book in constructive religious thought in 2000. He has edited four books, and is the author of more than 200 articles in scholarly and intellectual journals.

Closing Keynote: Summary of the Conference
Session Transcript
PATRICK GRAHAM, Correspondent for CBC and Harper’s Magazine
Patrick Graham is a freelance writer now living in Baghdad, having covered Iraq since October 2002. He has written about Iraq for Harper’s magazine, the New York Times Magazine, The i, and The National Post. He has also served as a television correspondent for the CBC, Global TV and Channel 4 television (UK), and spoke on CBC radio and BBC Radio World Service. He has also worked as a correspondent for the National Post covering many different areas and world events including the war in Kosovo and the fall of the Milosevic regime. He has also worked as a freelance magazine writer, documentary filmmaker, and partner in a video editing business. His work has appeared in Saturday Night, on CBC’s Man Alive series and participated in the Banff Centre’s Creative Non-Fiction and Cultural Journalism program.

2004 Corporate Sponsors

Logo     Logo
Department of Foreign Affairs Canada
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Annex Quest House
Appel Family Foundation
AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
Bahai’ Community of Canada
Bell Canada
Bombardier Inc.
Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars
Canada Lands Company Limited
Canadian Environmental Energy Corporation
Certified General Accountants
Ecco Design Group Inc.
EnviReform Project
GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
Henry of Pelham Estate Wineries
Jackman Foundation
Manulife Financial
The Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Foundation
Ontario Wine Counsel
Probyn & Company
RBC Foundation
Sun Life Canada
TD Bank Financial Group
The Toronto Star
U.S. Consulate
YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

Individual Sponsors

Bluma Appel
Sharon Baltman
Hans Bathija
Catherine Boivie
Gloria Buchanan
Roel and Dorothy Buck
Gwen Burrows
John Butcher
John Frid
Thérèse Gaudry
Jane Brenneman Gibson
Fred Gorbet
Sol Kasimer
John Kirton
Madeline Koch
Eric Koch
James Laidlaw
Margaret Lefebvre
Henry Lotin
Danielle Martin
Don McCutchan
Roderick McFadyen
David McGown
Elizabeth Mulholland
Allan O’Dette
Candida Paltiel
Alan Pearson
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
Bobbi Speck
Pat Swinton
Eileen Swinton
Tamara Trotman
Christopher Waddell
Helen Walsh
Michael Wilson
Dorothy Zolf McDonald

Couchiching Scholarships

    In 2002, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs gave over $5,000 in scholarships to attend the summer conference to recipients all across Canada – from the Yukon in the north, and British Columbia in the west, to Nova Scotia in the east.

    The Kurt Swinton Fund provides financial assistance to attend the annual summer conference to youth delegates up to the age of 25 and enrolled in a recognized educational institution. To be considered, applicants must demonstrate an interest in the particular conference topic or in the realm of public affairs.

    The Aczel Fund provides scholarships for non-students who have contributed to CIPA through its committees, or who have a special connection to the topic and can contribute to the conference.

    The Frank Lucas Fund provides scholarships for young individuals, either students or those beginning their career (generally under age 30) who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a conference outside the Maritimes.

    For each of these scholarships, a brief written submission must be made to the respective selection committees.

    Additional scholarships are also available.

    For further details and terms and conditions:

    Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs
    250 Consumers Road, Suite 301
    Willowdale, Ontario, M2J 4V6
    Tel: 416-494-1440
    Fax: 416-495-8723