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Opinions, croyances et attitudes religieuses au Canada

Beliefs about What and by Whom ?

When speaking of religious opinions, beliefs, and attitudes in Canada, what are we dealing with ? God ? Life after death ? Meaning and purpose in life ? Political party ? Social issues ? Additionally, who are we talking about ? People who identify with a religion and those who do not ? Those who identify with different religious traditions ? These are important questions to consider, for very different religious opinions, beliefs, and attitudes emerge depending on the topic and group in question. The following compares “religious affiliates” (i.e., those who identify with a religion) and “religious nones” (those who do not identify with a religion) along a range of topics.

Religious or Spiritual Beliefs

Religious or spiritual beliefs vary depending on whether someone is religiously affiliated or unaffiliated. For instance, a 2006 CROP Inc. survey shows that the religiously affiliated are more likely to believe in heaven (77%), miracles (72%), or hell (49%) versus religious nones (heaven : 32% ; miracles : 42% ; hell : 18%). In his book, Resilient Gods, Reginald Bibby (2017) demonstrates that 97% of those who “embrace religion” “definitely” or “think” they believe in God or a higher power in contrast to 34% of those who “reject religion.” Further, 93% of those who “embrace religion” maintain that God cares about them personally versus 19% of those who “reject religion.”

Importance of Religious or Spiritual Beliefs

As we might expect, 2010 General Social Survey data reveal that those who are religiously affiliated are more likely to say that religious or spiritual beliefs are important to them. Of those who say they are religiously affiliated, 40% say religious or spiritual beliefs are very important, 35% say somewhat important, 16% indicate not very important, and 9% reveal not at all important. These figures contrast those who say they have no religious affiliation : 15% note religious or spiritual beliefs are very important, 18% signal somewhat important, 21% say not very important, and 46% highlight not at all important.

“Moral” Issues

The 2015 Canadian Election Study reveals stark differences on a range of issues between those who say they are affiliated with a religion and religion is important to their life versus those who are not affiliated with any religion. For example, 42% of religiously affiliated folks who say religion is important in life favor same-sex marriage versus 71% of religious nones. Regarding the federal government spending more money on the environment, 52% of religious affiliates who say religion is important in life agree in comparison to 65% of religious nones. Data from the 2011 Canadian Election Study shows that 70% of the religiously affiliated who say religion is important in life favor legal abortion compared with 94% of religious nones. It is unsurprising, then, to find in Bibby’s (2017) book that 80% of those who “embrace religion” think that the overall impact of religion on the world is positive in comparison to 15% of those who “reject religion.”

Attitudes Toward Other Religious Groups

Data from the Angus Reid Institute in 2015 paints a picture of people’s attitudes toward a range of groups. It turns out that on the whole, Canadians have far more positive views toward mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics (the two dominant religious groups in Canada), fairly neutral views toward atheists and Evangelicals, and rather negative views toward Sikhs, Mormons, and Muslims. When you dig a bit deeper you discover that Evangelicals and atheists tend to hold very strong and negative views toward one other.

Further Explorations

There is a lot of other research in this area. For instance, the religion that a person identifies with (e.g., Christian, Jew, Muslim) yields further nuances in our understanding of Canadian religious opinions, beliefs, and attitudes. So too does the frequency of religious service attendance, gender, social class, ethnicity, plus the region that one lives in. In short, Canadian religious opinions, beliefs, and attitudes reflect how people are socialized to think about the world in the context of their various identity markers and experiences.

Additional Sources
- Bowen, Kurt. 2004. Christians in a Secular World : The Canadian Experience. Montreal, QC : McGill-Queen’s University Press.
- Bramadat, Paul, and David Seljak, eds. 2005. Religion and Ethnicity in Canada. Toronto, ON : University of Toronto Press.
- Lefebvre, Solange, and Lori Beaman, eds. 2014. Religion in the Public Sphere : Canadian Case Studies. Toronto, ON : University of Toronto Press.
- Thiessen, Joel and Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme. 2020. None of the Above : Nonreligious Identity in the US and Canada. New York, NY : New York University Press.

D 9 juin 2021    AJoel Thiessen

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