Uncovering what religious beliefs mean for our country and how our faith affects how we act as neighbours
There is a growing belief that religious faith doesn’t serve Canadian society, but the numbers don’t support the hype. To settle the matter, a 2017 Cardus-Angus Reid Institute poll looked at religion through the lens of citizenship to uncover how religion influences social norms in society, and whether it improves social cohesiveness or entrenches inequalities.
In the season premiere of Context Beyond The Headlines, Ray Pennings, co-founder and executive vice-president of Cardus, explains the roles faith and religious beliefs play in how we treat our neighbours. The findings were surprising.
The majority (67%) of Canadians identify themselves as ‘spiritual’ even though they don’t necessarily attend church; they practice religious traditions, teach their kids a moral code, and pray regularly. The poll also found that 20% are considered very active in their faith life, and another 20% hostile to faith, including those who reject faith in the public square.
When asked if religious groups are a net positive or a net negative in Canadian society, the numbers reveal that higher levels of faith directly correlated with good citizenship. The study found that the religiously committed, regardless of tradition, tend to be more positive about the contributions of others, including those of different faiths. The least religiously committed, on the other hand, are found to be reluctant to acknowledge the benefit to society of anyone but themselves. Conclusion: The more religious you are, the more respectful you are of the contributions of others.
While we may live in a secular country, we do not live in a secular society. All religious rights and freedoms are worth protecting. Faith is more than personal religious beliefs – it affects how we care for our neighbour and fundamentally, the very meaning of what it means to be Canadian. Faith matters to people and our nation’s narrative; we must not strip it of faith.
If there is one takeaway from this poll, it is this: Faith reverberates beyond religious and personal beliefs to shape the Canadian narrative of tolerance, respect, and care. So, keep speaking and sharing who you are as a faith-filled Canadian – because public issues need your faith perspective.
Season Premiere: Watch Lorna Dueck’s interview with Ray Pennings BELOW: