Canada, a relatively irreligious place

[Photo of Ian Bushfield.]
Ian Bushfield

By Ian Bushfield

The latest poll from Leger Marketing asked the standard “who will you vote for” type questions, but then dug deeper to try to expose a difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada. One question in particular sparked my interest. They asked “Do you personally consider yourself as a person who is religious?” and showed that a mere 22% of Quebeckers agreed versus 36% of Canadians. I transcribed their data to a graph to better illustrate the regional breakdown of religiosity in this country.

Are you religious?

There are a few interesting things to note here (at least for me).

First, no where in Canada do people consider themselves to be predominantly religious. Although we (unfortunately) do not have the corresponding response for the number of self-professed secularists (many will consider themselves neither religious or secular, just as in the poll many do not consider themselves right or left-leaning). Even supposedly religious bastions of Alberta and the prairies only slightly tug the rest-of-Canada average up. In general, only 1-in-3 Canadians actually identify as religious.

Next, we can see that BC nicely fits the national average, actually coming in second only to Quebec for the title of least religious province. This shouldn’t be a surprise from census data which puts the number of non-religious in BC at 35%, a number that is nearly a decade old. Note that between 1991 and 2001 the percentage of non-religious in BC grew by 5%.

Finally, Quebec has long been considered the Catholic province but in reality the province has shifted to a more nuanced Secular Catholicism, where they retain the culture of their history but adopt a more humanistic ethics toward human rights.

All-in-all I think this is a hidden gem of data for those who want to see a more secular Canada.

On the About Us page: “The British Columbia Humanist Association has been providing a community and voice for Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the non-religious of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia since 1982. We support the growth of Humanist communities across BC, provide Humanist ceremonies, and campaign for progressive and secular values.

We are a registered charitable organization. Our mission is:

  • to promote the ideas and philosophy of secular humanism by all available means of education and communication;
  • to serve the educational needs of its members and others of humanistic, scientific and naturalistic outlook, in a democratic, non-dogmatic manner free from authoritarian doctrine;
  • to provide opportunities for fellowship, study and service at all levels of humanistic endeavour, and to advance the values and welfare of humanity in dedication to the continuing enhancement of human life through human effort and understanding;
  • to offer and provide meaningful ceremonies to members and non-members at significant times such as marriage and death; and
  • to elaborate and to express publicly Humanist positions on issues of concern to people, including values, morality and ethics.

Find out more about Humanism or the issues we support.

We are run by a democratically-elected volunteer Board of Directors and a small staff. We are funded entirely by donations from individuals who share our vision for a world based on reason and compassion.”

Originally published on the British Columbia Humanist Association website on March 21, 2012.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Image Credit: Ian Bushfield/Devan Scott.

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