Canada: Division over role of religion in Canadian society


Canadians remain mixed in their views on the role of religion in society based on a new study by the Angus Reid Institute. One-third of Canadian citizens want to see a more secular nation. The study, though, was conducted in partnership with Cardus, which is a Christian think-tank.

6 in 10 Canadians find the freedom of religion a virtue in Canadian society. That which contributes to the society rather than detracts from it. Only 1 in 10 citizens in Canada think the opposite.

The research presented some other interesting findings about Canadians. Presumably, this is in line with other research on Canadians and the nature of religion as more of a private than a public matter. Indeed, as stated, “…a premium placed on freedom of religion exists alongside limitations as to how far that faith should extend in public life.”

4 in 10 Canadians disagree with the claim of faith improving equality and human rights. Indeed, this may seem paradoxical or counterintuitive. However, the traditional demographic categories of age, gender, and political persuasion do not count as the major deciding factors in the differentials of responses to the questions in the survey.

As reported, “The Angus Reid Institute used 17 different variables to categorize Canadians across a Public Faith Index to create three groups: The Public Faith Proponents, the Uncertain and the Public Faith Opponents.”
Each grouping had a different idea of the role of faith in public life while having a consistently diverse set of backgrounds, including in the aforementioned variable categories.  The Angus Reid research is important because of the insight into the nature of the questions on religion in Canadian society moving further into the 21st century.

What do Canadians think about faith? What do Canadians feel about religion? How should these thoughts and emotions influence the nature of public policy and political life in Canadian society? All important questions, where all this research can become a point of further information on the matter.

Approximately equal numbers were found within the Public Faith Proponents and the Public Faith Opponents, i.e., a split on an important subject matter to Canadians. Still, 3 in 10 Canadians remain on the fence.

From October 24 to November 1, 2019, a representative randomize sample survey was conducted on 2,057 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum members. There may be a self-selection effect there.

This sample size produces a margin of error of 2 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

Half of Canadian citizens belief the faith communities as a practical reality harbour a mixed outcome – good and bad – to Canadian society. 1 in 5 Canadians believe Canada keeps the faith and values talk from the public arena with a further 1 out of 3 seeing room for their faith and values expressed in the public sphere.

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash

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