The Angus Reid Institute recently released the results of a polling study it conducted into the state of faith and spirituality in Canada. (You can read the report here.) As one might expect, the role of institutional religion in Canada seems to be continuing to diminish in many respects. However, the study also suggests that Canadians may be “much less hostile toward religion than declining church attendances might imply.” The researchers group Canadians along a spectrum divided among four groups: Non-Believers (19% of the population), Spiritually Uncertain (30%), Privately Faithful (30%), and Religiously Committed (21%). While one could certainly raise questions about the criteria used for delineating these categories and spend time debating what the numbers might mean, I will leave that for another time.
While there is lots of interesting data in the study, there were a few particular numbers I wanted to share. I should say at the outset, though, there is nothing particularly systematic about the data points that follow; they simply caught my attention for one reason or another.
58% of “religiously committed” Canadians read their sacred text at least once a month
46% of all Canadians think that the word “Mercy” has a positive meaning
12% of all Canadians think that the word “Theology” has a positive meaning
45% of all Canadians think that “religion’s overall impact in the world is positive”
72% of all Canadians think that “Pope Francis is having a positive impact on the world”
A somewhat different portrait of Canadian church life has been painted by Jason Byassee, who occupies the Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at the Vancouver School of Theology, in a recent column in The Other Journal. Byassee suggests that the narrative of the church’s demise in Canada may be greatly exaggerated. He presents the stories of several thriving congregations, representing a variety of denominational traditions, in the Vancouver area as a way of suggesting that there may be cracks in the secularist narrative. (You can read the article here.)