A man walks with a crucifix along with the faithful as they participate in the Way of the Cross on Good Friday in Montreal, April 18, 2014.

A man walks with a crucifix along with the faithful as they participate in the Way of the Cross on Good Friday in Montreal, April 18, 2014.
Photo Credit: PC / Graham Hughes

Shying away from organized religion Canadians still keep faith: study

Share

As millions of Canadians get ready to enjoy the long Easter weekend, a new study shows that even if they skip religious services, most Canadians are much less hostile toward religion than declining church attendances might imply.

In fact, only about one-fifth of Canadians could be described as “not religious at all,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the study.

“What stands out to me is when we have conversations about growing secular Canada, the secularization of the country or the idea that people are turning away from the concepts of God and faith, and spirituality,” said Kurl, “they may indeed may be turning away from organized religion but they are still claiming in varying degrees a strong connection to faith.”

(click to listen to the interview with Shachi Kurl)

Listen
Wide spectrum of faith

The study divides Canadians into four broad categories, she said. The “religiously committed,” who make up about a fifth of the population, are the first category.

“These are people who do go to church, or temple of synagogue, they believe in God, they regularly attend their congregations,” Kurl said.

Then there the “privately faithful,” for whom faith and religion, and their own connection to God is much more a private affair, Kurl said.

“Perhaps, they are not attending services but they are still praying, they still have a very strong connection to their gods,” she said. They make up about 30 per cent of the population.

The “spiritually uncertain” category encompasses another 30 per cent of Canadians.

“They have some level of religiosity or spiritualism but are, perhaps, drifting away from it,” Kurl said.

And the final category is the “non-believers,” who make up about 19 per cent of the population.

Zubar Karamat, 3, looks up during prayer at the Muslim Association of Canada’s Eid celebration at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.
Zubar Karamat, 3, looks up during prayer at the Muslim Association of Canada’s Eid celebration at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. © PC/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Four in five Canadians are claiming some connection to God and faith and religiosity in their lives, Kurl said.

“I think that is striking because what it tells us is, perhaps, we are not as a country and as a society turning away from these concepts, whether they are in Judeo-Christian path, or the Hindu, of the Sikh, or the Muslim faith in the way that I think many journalists, writers, politicians and the chattering classes would have us believe,” Kurl said.

Regional differences

However, there are big differences in attitudes towards religion and faith based on geography and age.

“The most religious followers, the most devout Canadians, the big “R” religious, the big “G” god believers are found on the Prairies, in Saskatchewan, Alberta or Manitoba,” Kurl said.

Approximately three-in-ten from Saskatchewan (32%), Alberta (29%) or Manitoba (28%) are considered as religiously committed. By contrast, only 14 per cent of Quebec residents and 19 per cent of British Columbians can say the same, according to the study.

The age and gender of respondents is another important element. The non-believer category is made up of 61 per cent men, and a disproportionate number of them under the age of 55. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the more religious segments tend to be older and female, Kurl said.

Immigration rejuvenates congregations

Immigration has also played an important role in Canada’s faith landscape, she said.

Polling data and information from Statistics Canada census data shows that the rejuvenation of congregations, the reinvigoration of churches in Canada has been driven by immigration in the last 15 years, Kurl said.

“If you look at the youngest congregants across the board in this country, who is going to religious services regularly regardless of what religion they belong to?” Kurl said. “They’re coming from South Asia.”

The youngest religious adherents in Canada are Muslim, followed by adherents of Sikh and Hindu faiths, she said.

Words matter

Canadians are more likely to turn away from more formalized words and concepts associated with organized religion and much more likely to embrace themes and concepts that have to do with personal faith.

Words such as sin, morality and mercy tend to be less positively viewed, than themes that cut across all faith, such as forgiveness, kindness and love, Kurl said.

Share
Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Lifestyle, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*