Data from two major polling firms show Canadians are nowhere close to the caricature of faith-hostile atheists that we’ve been led to believe characterize us.
In fact, a survey by the Angus Reid Institute released just before Easter revealed 81 per cent of Canadians are either committed believers (21 per cent), “privately faithful” or, at worst, spiritually uncertain.
Fewer than one in five of us identify as outright non-believers.
The news gets even better with a Léger Marketing poll from mid-March showing fully two-thirds of Canadians say relations between the vast religious majority and the relatively small non-religious minority are positive.
When it comes to faith specific groups, relations between Jews and non-Jews are seen in an equally welcome light. The darker cloud in the Léger numbers touches Islam and Muslims in Canada.
For example, in Quebec, in the aftermath of the killings in a Quebec City mosque last winter, only 50 per cent of Quebecers still have a positive view of Muslims, and barely a third have a positive view of Islam.
Even there, however, perspective is important. As Jack Jedwab of the Association of Canadian Studies points out, the Léger survey refutes the conventional wisdom that debates about religious accommodation are fuelled by a desire to expand secularism in Canadian society.
“That doesn’t seem to be borne out by the data,” Jedwab told The Montreal Gazette.
This article continues at [Catholic Register] Opinion: The surveys say … yes, faith has future in Canada