While the majority of Canadians profess some belief in God or a higher power, nearly a third would like to see Canada become a more secular nation, according to a new public opinion poll.
The study by the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with the Christian think-tank Cardus, found that six-in-ten Canadians say that freedom of religion makes Canada a better country. One-in-ten Canadians think the opposite.
Moreover, while six-in-ten Canadians say that a faith-based upbringing produces better members of society, four-in-ten disagree.
The study categorized Canadians into three roughly equal-sized groups across what it called a Public Faith Index: the Public Faith Proponents, the Uncertain and the Public Faith Opponents.
The Public Faith Proponents make up 36 per cent of respondents and Public Faith Opponents 35 per cent, while the Uncertain group accounts for 30 per cent of respondents.
The study found that nearly half of Canadians feel that faith communities make an impact that is mixed, both good and bad in different instances, while three-in-ten say the influence of these groups is more good than bad overall.
Asked whether they felt religious and faith communities strengthen Canadian values, six-in-ten agree but a considerable minority, about four-in-ten, do not believe this is the case.
The study found different levels of enthusiasm for different religious groups in Canada.
For example, nearly three-in-ten feel the presence of Catholics in Canada benefits the country as a whole, while nearly one-quarter say that Canada is worse off because of Catholicism’s influence.
Protestantism and Judaism score higher points in the public’s appreciation of their role, while Evangelical Christianity and Islam score most poorly, the study found.
Also, one-in-five Canadians feel that Canadian society ‘shuts out’ their faith and values, while one-third feel that there is ample public acceptance of their faith and values.
The biggest group, 37 per cent, do not feel any real impact from broader society with respect to their personal beliefs.