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Religion seen to have played a positive role in local communities, less so on the national stage

Religion seen to have played a positive role in local communities, less so on the national stage

Though the religions of the world are massive, globe-spanning umbrellas for people of faith, the bulk of people’s interactions with religion – their own and others – occur at the community level.

It is through this local lens that a new national study from the Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, finds Canadians largely pleased with the contributions faith-based organizations have made to their local communities since Confederation. The development of hospitals, schools, and charitable organizations is widely seen as a positive force, especially by those inclined to embrace their own faith.

At the same time, on a national level, the legacy of faith and religion in Canada over the last 150 years has been more mixed. Whether they are devoutly religious or staunchly atheist, Canadians agree that interactions between religious institutions and Indigenous Canadians – most notably the residential school system run largely by Christian churches – have been much more bad than good, and that reconciliation is paramount.

Key Findings:

  • One’s personal relationship to faith and religion affects one’s views on the contributions of religion to Canada’s development. Highly religious individuals are much more likely to view such contributions favourably
  • Those with a lower degree of religiosity are less likely to be aware of a role played by religion in various aspects of community development, and to hold more negative views if they are aware
  • Canadians see residential schools as a major black mark on the history of religion in Canada, but other interactions between Indigenous and faith communities are also viewed more negatively than positively

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