Lori Beaman


Lori Beaman
Member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and thereby authorized to supervise theses and Full Professor, Department of Classics and Religious Studies
1996 – PhD in Sociology, University of New Brunswick
1992 – LLB, University of New Brunswick
1987 – MA in Sociology, University of New Brunswick
1985 – BA in Philosophy, University of New Brunswick

55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 10127

Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2814

Work E-mail: lbeaman@uOttawa.ca

Lori G. Beaman


Member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and thereby authorized to supervise theses.

Where do we draw the line on religious freedom? To what extent should we protect religious expression and at what cost? These are a couple of the questions I am exploring in my program of research as a Canada Research Chair. My hope is that the process of exploring these questions and their possible answers will help to define the sort of nation Canada is – and should be.

This project explores the ways in which we as a society define religion and how these definitions are translated into interpretations of religious freedom. In the process of this exploration I am taking a close look at the theoretical underpinnings of the limitation of religious freedom as it is currently viewed by Canada’s courts. 

This research also analyses the global implications of various definitions of religious freedom. This part of the research involves an examination of case law from Britain, the United States, and France because I believe that observations about religious freedom apply across national borders, and fit more broadly into the domain of human rights. 

This research is helping to clarify various important religious and societal issues such as the application of Sharia law in a “secular” state, the legality of polygamy, and the role of religion in public debates over same-sex marriage. I hope that it will also produce the kind of academic tools that can be used in the assessment of such issues in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Selected publications


1999 – Shared Beliefs, Different Lives: Women’s Identities in Evangelical Context, St. Louis: Chalice Press.

2008 – Defining Harm: Religious Freedom and the Limits of the Law , Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Edited volumes

2000 – Perspectives on Deviance: The Construction of Deviance in Everyday Life, Toronto: Prentice Hall.

2006 – Religion and Canadian Society: Traditions, Transitions and Innovations, Toronto: Scholar’s Press.

2007 – Religion, Globalization and Culture, edited by Peter Beyer and Lori G. Beaman, Leiden: Brill Academic Press.

Co-authored volumes

2007 – Beverly Matthews and Lori G. Beaman, Gender in Canada, Toronto: Pearson.

Refereed journal articles

2009 – Lisa Smith and Lori G. Beaman, “Displacing Religion, Disarming Law: Situating Quaker Spirituality in the Trident Three Case”, Social Compass, in press.

2006 – “Who Decides? Harm, Polygamy and Limits on Freedom”, invited reply to Stephen Kent for Nova Religio , 10(1):43-51.

2005 – “Religion and Rights: The Illusion of Freedom and the Reality of Control”, Culture and Religion : Special Issue: “Religion, Law and Human Rights”, edited by Winnifred Sullivan and Rosalind Hackett, 6(1):17-29.

2004 – “Church, State and the Legal Interpretation of Polygamy”,Nova Religio, 8(1):20-38.

2003 – “The Myth of Plurality, Diversity and Vigour: Constitutional Privilege of Protestantism in the United States and Canada”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42(3): 311-325; and 341-346. (This article was selected to be the focus of a symposium on religious freedom for the journal and includes both a paper and a response to critics.)

2002 – “Aboriginal Spirituality and the Legal Construction of Freedom of Religion”, Journal of Church and State, 44 Winter: 135-149.

2000 – “Molly Mormons, Mormon Feminists and Moderates: Religious Diversity and the Latter Day Saints Church” Sociology of Religion, 62(1):65-86.

1999 – “Sexual Orientation and Legal Discourse: The Egan Case”,Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 14(2):173-201.

Book chapters

2007 – “Defining Religion: The Promise and the Perils of Legal Interpretation”, in Law, Religion and Citizenship: Essays on the Relationship between Law and Religion in Canada, edited by Richard Moon, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, forthcoming.

2007 – “Religion and the State: The Letter of the Law and the Negotiation of Boundaries”, in Religion, Globalization and Culture, edited by Peter

Beyer and Lori G. Beaman, Leiden: Brill Academic Press, 393-407.

2006 – “Religious Freedom, Witches, and the Law”, in Anthology of Paganism in Canada, edited by Sian Reid, Scholar’s Press, 161-185.

2006 – “Canada: Religious Freedom Written and Lived”, in The New Religious Question: State Regulation or State Interference? Public Management of Religious Diversity, edited by Pauline Côté and Jeremy Gunn, Brussels: Peter Lang Publishers, 113-130.

2006 – “Labyrinth as Heterotopia: The Pilgrim’s Creation of Space”, inOn the Road to Being There: Continuing the Pilgrimage-Tourism Dialogue, edited by William Swatos Jr., Leiden: Brill Academic Press, 83-103.

2005 – “The Irrelevance of Belief, the Harm of Practice, and the Preservation of the Homophobic Status Quo: A Comment on Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers ”, in Women and the Law in the New Millennium: Intersections Between Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation, edited by Gayle MacDonald, Toronto: Sumach Press, 89-114.

2003 – “The Courts and the Definition of Religion”, in Defining Religion: Investigating the Boundaries between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Arthur L. Greil and David G. Bromley, Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd., 203-219.

2002 – “Justice on the Margins: Wiccans and Freedom of Religion in North America”, in Knowledge, Power, Gender: Philosophy and the Future of the ‘Condition Feminine’, edited by Birgit Christensen et al, Zurich: Chronos Verlag, 415-423.

2002 – “Legal Discourse and Domestic Legal Aid: The Problem of Fitting In”, in Social Context and Social Location in the Sociology of Law, edited by Gayle MacDonald, Toronto: Westview, 69-89.

2001 – “Introduction to Gender and Religion”, in Sociology of Religion: A Reader, edited by Michael O. Emerson, William A. Mirola, and Susanne C. Monahan, Prentice Hall, 115-143. 

Research chairs

Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a Diverse Canada

Awards and achievements

Professor Beaman has been awarded $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as part of the Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) program.

Fields of Interest

  • Religion in Canadian Society
  • Social and Cultural Theory
  • Critical Legal Studies
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