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.