Most of the following reports were done by students as part of a course in Religious Studies. The course required them to do extensive background reading in the religion under study, provided instruction in participant-observer research and ensured that the ethics protocols of interviewing for academic research were followed. In most cases, several students studied a single religious site. MRSP selected the best of such reports for uploading to this website.
The reports have a standard format. The first part consists of a Data Sheet which provides basic information about the religious site. The categories of the Data Sheet have deliberately been made similar to the data sheet used by the Harvard University Pluralism in America Project, in order to produce data which will be comparable to those used in its study of religious pluralism in the United States. (MRSP hereby expresses its appreciation for the support of the Harvard Pluralism Project.)
The second part of each report consists of an ethnographic study of a local religious site. Students normally made several visits to their site to learn as much as possible about the physical site and to interview its members. The results of the study are categorized under three heads: (1) Institution, which presents data about the religious site itself, its history, size of membership, religious sect or denomination, affiliations with other religious bodies, etc.; (2) Ritual and Practices, which describes both formal religious ritual and informal social activities; (3) Teaching and Principles, which explains the basic religious and ethical principles of the religion as taught at the local site.
In some cases, there is more than one report for a single religious site. Usually there has been two or more years between one report and the next. Since these sites are constantly evolving, often moving from smaller buildings to larger facilities, adding new ordained clergy, sponsoring more and more activities, reports written on the same site provide snapshots over time of their historical development.
In addition to field research reports written by students in course, MRSP sponsored research into many other religious sites, outside of any academic course. In particular, Mr. Mumtaz Rehman, a senior member of the Muslim community in Montreal, has been extremely helpful. In addition to writing a history of the Indo-Pakistani Muslim Community in Montreal, he also provided several reports of Islamic mosques. His stature as a senior member of the community gave him access to the Islamic religious sites which would not have been possible for the average student.
MRSP has also sponsored research by other members of the Montreal academic community (see the reports by Bednikoff and Majeed) and has also been fortunate to receive permission to upload two MA theses which deal with minority religion in Montreal.