Thursday, October 17, 2013

Religion in Canada

Religions in Canada

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[Lately the 2011 Government of Canada research has become available to the public. The information below reveals some of the trends concerning religion here in Canada. I find it interesting that the survey does not include the number of Protestants and the percentage or number of each respective Protestant denomination. Why they are excluded one can only speculate: are Protestants becoming so insignificant and fragmented that they are of no or little interest to government researchers? Or are there other reasons for their omission herein?
   When I observe what’s going on with the Protestant denominations in my city, I see that the parishes are shrinking, some closing down, others consisting of mainly grey-haired members, and not able to recruit the “bust” and “echo” generations, and even my “boomer” generation is not overly interested in being actively involved in the mainline Protestant churches.
   Of course, sociologists such as Professor Reg Bibby have their theories and observations on the current trends in Canadian religion. However I think even Bibby’s research is somewhat biased—often coming out in favour of the more “conservative” denominations as the ones having the most potential for growth in the future. What I see happening in my denomination—the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada—is a continuous loss of membership and an increased emphasis on more liberal approaches to controversial doctrinal issues such as same-sex blessings and marriages, bio-ethics, social justice, ecumenical and inter-faith relations, as well as lower enrollment in our seminaries and a growing number of retired clergy who are living longer.
   Another growing trend in Canada is the higher number of citizens with no religious affiliation—almost one-quarter of the total population, 23.9%. In many respects, I think we are becoming one of the most secular nations in the world. For example, in some of our largest cities only one-tenth of the total population worship regularly—i.e. once per month. Then number of church marriages and funerals are also decreasing, along with an increasing number of the deceased having no funeral. Will these trends change in the future and can the mainline churches attract some of these folks? Only time will tell. What do you think of the findings of the National Household Survey? Do you consider the findings positive or negative? Your comments are most welcome.]
The NHS (National Household Survey) collected information on religious affiliation, regardless of whether respondents practised their religion.
   The largest faith in Canada was Christianity. About 22,102,700, or two-thirds of Canada's population (67.3%), reported that they were affiliated with a Christian religion.
   Roman Catholics were the largest Christian religious group in 2011. About 12,728,900 people identified themselves as Roman Catholic, representing 38.7% of Canada's population as a whole.
   Consistent with changing immigration patterns, there were growing proportions of the population who reported religious affiliations other than Christian. These religions included Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist. In 2011, about 2,373,700 people, or 7.2% of Canada's population, reported affiliation with one of these religions. This was up from 4.9% a decade earlier, as recorded in the 2001 Census.
   In 2011, people who identified themselves as Muslim made up 3.2% of the population, Hindu 1.5%, Sikh 1.4%, Buddhist 1.1% and Jewish 1.0%.
   Roughly 7,850,600 people, or nearly one-quarter of Canada's population (23.9%), had no religious affiliation. This was up from 16.5% a decade earlier, as recorded in the 2001 Census.
   Immigration has contributed to a higher share of the population having affiliation with Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religions as well as to a higher share of the population having no religious affiliation. Of the immigrants who came prior to 1971, 2.9% were affiliated with Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religions, whereas 33.0% of immigrants who came between 2001 and 2011 reported affiliation to one of these religions. As well, 16.0% of immigrants who came before 1971 had no religious affiliation, compared with 22.0% among those who came between 2001 and 2005, and 19.5% among those who came between 2006 and 2011.

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