September 10, 2004 ( – A study just released by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC) shows a considerable decline in the religious faith of Canadians.

In 1980, 79% of Canadians polled said that religion was an important factor in the moral and ethical life of the country. In their personal lives, 76% said that religion was very important to them. Twenty years later, the same questions were asked with answers that most pro-life activists and observers will find unsurprising. CRIC shows that only 61% of Canadians believe that religious practice is an important factor in the moral and ethical lives of Canadians, and 66% of Canadians said it was an important part of their lives.  The latest census information from Statistics Canada shows the religious lives of Canadians largely fall into three categories. Out of a population of just under 30 million, approximately 44% called themselves Catholic and 29% said they were some type of Protestant. The Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh religions are followed by approximately 300,000 Canadians each, in addition to 579,000 Muslims.

90% of the Canadian population however falls into one of three categories. Traditionally, Canadian statistics showed two groups dominating the numbers, Catholics and Protestants. Now however, a third category is showing gains, that of ‘no religious affiliation.’ 17% of Canadians, or about 5 million, say they have no affiliation. However, with the addition of the 44% from the CRIC research, it can easily be concluded that a large portion of those calling themselves some kind of Christian on the Stats Canada census do so out of no particular internal adherence to Christian religion.

As always, Quebec leads the country in abandonment of religious adherence and practice. Quebec Canadians still overwhelmingly call themselves Catholic, 83%, and they represent the largest numbers in the CRIC poll who consider religion unimportant in public and private life at 66% and 59% respectively. These numbers, coming out of what was once considered to be one of the most devout Catholic regions in the world, indicate that the problem of a general decline of religious practice is one that rests most heavily on the Catholic Church. For generations, Quebec Catholic religious orders sent missionaries all over the country and the world to operate schools, colleges and hospitals. In the 1960’s, Quebec’s precipitous crash of individual internal adherence to the Catholic faith affected all parts of the country. The great majority of Catholic religious orders in Canada had and have their headquarters in Quebec. In the Canadian Catholic hierarchy, the majority of bishops also come from Quebec.  In general the number of Christians in Canada is dropping at a rate of 0.9% per year while the number of agnostics, atheists, secular humanists and persons of no affiliation is on a steady rise. The Pew Research Center has conducted a series of studies called “The Pew Global Attitudes Project,” that found Canadians as a whole are moving away from sincere religious faith, even as they continue in large numbers to call themselves Catholic or Protestant on census forms.

CRIC study:   Pew Research Center information:



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