Canadians keep the faith to varying degrees, but few reject it entirely
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.
“We have a society that has a secular government and there is a general assumption of faith being very private,” said Ray Pennings, executive vice-president of think tank Cardus, in a National Post report. “On the other hand, when you actually take a look at everyday society, the majority of people are people of faith to one degree or another, and faith informs and influences many of the ways we deal with each other on a day-to-day basis.”
- 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