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Seven-in-ten say freedom of conscience makes Canada better; many worried that freedom is weakening: Survey

 For the first time since 2019, Canadians across the religious spectrum are celebrating the opportunity to give thanks and pray in person without public health restrictions during the April “Holy Week”. While this period generally refers to the period of time between Palm Sunday and Easter in the Christian tradition, for millions in Canada, the meaning is broadened by the observance of Passover for Jews, the middle of the period of Ramadan for Muslims, the celebration of Vaisakhi for Sikhs, and the recent conclusion of Navratri among Hindus.

Against this backdrop, the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with Cardus, offers a comprehensive and first-of-its-kind look at the faith journeys of Canadians not just among majority religious communities, but across the religious spectrum. This data explores not only the connection and conviction of Canadians of faith among more traditionally prevalent demographics – Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical communities – but also among Canadians who identify as Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh. What do these communities of faith have in common? How are they different?

For those raised in the Evangelical Christian and Muslim faith, a more formal religious commitment defines religiosity. Three-quarters of Evangelicals (74%) and 46 per cent of Muslims are categorized by the Angus Reid Institute as Religiously Committed, which is based on a propensity toward attendance of worship, active prayer, and a deep belief in God. Those raised in the Sikh or Hindu faiths tend more toward the Privately Faithful – those who do not necessarily gather as formally and frequently, but nonetheless profess a strong personal connection to their religion.

Evangelicals and Muslims are also both most enthusiastic about the positive impact that faith-based communities have on Canadian society, with at least 55 per cent of each saying that this influence is “more good than bad”. This, compared to three-in-ten Roman Catholics (29%), 33 per cent of Hindus and just 12 per cent of the non-religious who agree.

Faith groups in Canada face a varied landscape of perceptions from both the non-religious and from those observing other belief systems. For example, Atheists are overwhelmingly critical of the influence of Evangelical Christians on society but are largely positive about the perceived impacts of Sikhs and Hindus. Canada’s largest religious group – Roman Catholics – are more likely to perceive Evangelical Christians, Muslims and Sikhs as doing more harm than benefit to the social fabric of the country but view other faiths positively.

The cultural mosaic in Canada is ever-shifting, and the faith-based pieces of that broader whole are no different. These data find first generation Canadians much more likely to profess religiosity. This, as those born in Canada continue to shift further into areligious identities.

Despite that shift, being raised in a religious tradition is common in Canada. Seven-in-ten (72%) say they grew up with religious teachings, including just over half (54%) of those who currently profess no religious affiliation.

More Key Findings:

  • Canada’s religious core continues to be found in the Prairie provinces. In Alberta (24%), Saskatchewan (25%), and Manitoba (25%), one-quarter of residents are categorized as Religiously Committed on the Spectrum of Spirituality. Quebec residents are most likely to eschew religion, whether more personal or overtly formal.
  • Two-in-five Roman Catholics (39%), Sikhs (39%), and Muslims (38%) say that they feel society makes room for their faith, rather than shuts them out. That said, Muslims are second most likely among faith groups to say that they feel shut out (26%), though in far lesser numbers than among Evangelical Christians (56%).
  • One-third (36%) of Canadians pray at least once or twice a month, including nearly all (86%) of Evangelical Christians and three-quarters (72%) of Muslims. Frequent prayer is common among Hindus (57%) and Sikhs (62%), but less so for Roman Catholics (41%), Protestants (34%) and Jewish Canadians (32%).

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

About Cardus

Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.

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