NATIONAL PULSE – Poll shows that Canadians keep the faith to varying degrees, but few reject it entirely

(Image: Angus Reid Institute)

Latest from the Angus Reid Institute, released today (April 13, 2017):

As Christians around the world prepare for Easter, Hindus and Sikhs for Vaisakhi, and Jews for the conclusion of Passover, a new study from the Angus Reid Institute looks at the anatomy of faith in Canada.

Conducted in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, this research builds on previous Angus Reid Institute studies on issues of faith and prayer in Canada today, articulating a continuum of religiosity that finds Canadians much less hostile toward religion than declining church attendances might imply. Indeed, relatively few Canadians could be described as “not religious at all.” Many more express personal belief in the existence of God or a higher power and have some degree of spiritual life.

This study sorts Canadians into a spectrum that ranges from total rejection of spirituality and faith of all kinds to a strong embrace of organized religion and its role in one’s own life. An individual’s place on this spectrum can serve to predict not only their views on questions of personal faith and public religion, but also more fundamental questions about their outlook on life and their sense of belonging to their community.

Key Findings:religion poll canada

  • Four broad segments of this spectrum are analyzed in this survey: The Non-Believers (19% of the total population), the Spiritually Uncertain (30%), the Privately Faithful (30%), and the Religiously Committed (21%)
  • Though most Canadians do not rule out personal faith, they are more likely to view the word “religion” negatively (33% do) than positively (25%)
  • Higher levels of belief are correlated with higher levels of personal happiness, charitable giving, volunteerism, and overall community engagement

In order to situate faith in Canada, a number of important elements need to be considered. How intensely does one believe? Do they engage with religion regularly? Do they read holy scripture? With the spectrum of spiritual belief and practice in mind, Angus Reid Institute researchers created a composite index based on responses to several questions about faith and experience with God or a higher power. This enabled researchers to group respondents into like-minded segments. The following factors were measured in the data analysis:

  • Belief in God or a higher power
  • Belief in life after death
  • How often, if at all, a person prays to God or a higher power
  • How often a person attends religious services
  • How often a person reads the Bible or other sacred text
  • How often a person feels they experience God’s presence
  • How important it is to a person that their child to be educated about faith and involved in a faith-based community

ARI researchers used respondents’ answers to these questions to create a continuum of faith, with those providing more answers indicating belief near the high end, and those with fewer answers suggesting a degree of personal faith near the low end.

Along this continuum, four distinct groups emerge: Non-Believers, Spiritually Uncertain, Privately Faithful and Religiously Committed.

The most devout religious followers in Canada are more likely to be found in the prairies. Approximately three-in-ten from Saskatchewan (32%), Alberta (29%) or Manitoba (28%) fit into this end of the spectrum as Religiously Committed. By contrast, 14 per cent of Quebec residents and 19 per cent of British Columbians can say the same.

For their part, Quebecers are most likely to be found in the middle segments. Two-thirds of Quebecers fit the two middle categories (68%), the largest such grouping in the country. B.C. is home to the highest proportion of Non-Believers at just over one-quarter (27%) and is second only to Quebec in Spiritual Uncertainty (33%).

Link to the poll here:

About Mel Rothenburger (6011 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on NATIONAL PULSE – Poll shows that Canadians keep the faith to varying degrees, but few reject it entirely

  1. It would be interesting to know what these results would look like if children were shielded from religion of all types until they are mature enough to make up their own minds. Without childhood indoctrination, they’d have a chance to form an opinion based on facts and realities rather than superstitions.

    I suspect the numbers would be significantly different…

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