Sacred spaces in public places: religious and spiritual plurality in health care

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REIMER‐KIRKHAM S, SHARMA S, PESUT B, SAWATZKY R, MEYERHOFF H and COCHRANE M. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 202–212 Sacred spaces in public places: religious and spiritual plurality in health care

Several intriguing developments mark the role and expression of religion and spirituality in society in recent years. In what were deemed secular societies, flows of increased sacralization (variously referred to as ‘new’, ‘alternative’, ‘emergent’ and ‘progressive’ spiritualities) and resurgent globalizing religions (sometimes with fundamentalist expressions) are resulting in unprecedented plurality. These shifts are occurring in conjunction with increasing ethnic diversity associated with global migration, as well as other axes of difference within contemporary society. Democratic secular nations such as Canada are challenged to achieve social cohesion in the face of growing religious, spiritual and ethnic diversity. These challenges are evident in the high‐paced, demanding arena of Health care. Here, religious and spiritual plurality enter in, sometimes resulting in conflict between medical services and patients’ beliefs, other times provoking uncertainties on the part of healthcare professionals about what to do with their own religiously or spiritually grounded values and beliefs. In this paper, we present selected findings from a 3‐year study that examined the negotiation of religious and spiritual pluralism in Health care. Our focus is on the themes of ‘sacred’ and ‘place’, exploring how the sacred – that which is attributed as special and set apart as it pertains to the divine, transcendence, God or higher power – takes form in social and material spaces in hospitals.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Trinity Western University, Langley, BC, Canada 2: Durham University, Durham, UK 3: University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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