American Turban

Is the United States more religious than Canada?

"The fourth in Reginald Bibby’s classic examinations of religion in Canada" (http://www.beyondthegodsandback.com)

"The fourth in Reginald Bibby’s classic examinations of religion in Canada" (http://www.beyondthegodsandback.com)

An interesting article in Canada’s National Post presents a comparison of religion above and below the 49th Parallel:

Competition, innovation and entrepreneurialism, all qualities normally associated with business, may explain why the United States is more religious than Canada, and determine the future of organized religions in our country, says a leading sociologist.

The article summarizes an upcoming book by Reginald Bibby called Beyond the Gods and Back, in which he presents some interesting statistics:

The United States is considered one of the most religious countries in the world while Canada has become more secular. Studies have shown that 43% of Americans go to a religious service at least once a week while in Canada it is about 20%. In America, 50% of teens go once a week; in Canada, it is 21%.

The difference in the “religiosity” between Canada and the United States is interesting.  Both countries enshrine the rights to freedom of religion, and yet Canada is said to be more secular, and so much so that there is a growing polarization between the religious and non-religious.

Bibby proposes that the evangelical nature of US Christianity (in particular) instigates constant recruitment activity to identify people who would be more open to switching religious affiliation, and as such this results in higher rates of worship attendance. People are more often “sold” on religion in the United States instead of Canada.

We see this often on the street, where religious groups in the United States provide their services using languages and customs particular to a targeted culture or ethnicity, or those that market their faiths door-to-door in missionary activities. However, while this may fill the seats in the building, does it truly advance the fundamental goals of that religion?

This competitive nature of missionary activity is, at its core, based on a basic assumption of ownership of absolute truth: my religion is the true way, yours is false. It focuses on the differences of others from your own group. However, many of these differences are man-made, and to focus on these injects a prejudice to disregard the significant commonalities among people.

Does this really lay the seeds of a harmonious society?

One of the major themes within Sikhism is that there is only one God – and this is not a “Sikh” God but one for all humanity regardless of religious affliation.  Religions are nothing more than different paths to the same end, and therefore no one should be persecuted for their religious beliefs.  This is why there is no missionary activity nor proselytism in Sikhism.  

Using church attendance may be a measure of the religiousness of a society, but perhaps other factors need to be considered as well – especially those that a given society seems to exhibit as a whole.  For example, how much do people within a country “live and let live”? How much charity is reflected in the actions of its population? Does the population help its poor? Does it stand up for those less fortunate around the world?

These are some of the universal truths that are espoused by many faiths, and adherence to these might be a more accurate measure of religiousness of a population than simply church attendance.

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7 comments

  1. Pingback: Is religion still “socially useful” in the west? « American Turban

  2. Silk

    Hello, interesting article. I’m Canadian and I am frequently in the States and have American friends. My opinion is that Canadians are far more laidback about the subject of religion than Americans are but also importantly, that we do not like to discuss our beliefs publicly… to us it is a private matter. For the most part, there is more of a live and let live attitude in Canada towards those who are of a different religion (unless of course they are a threat to the common good of all such as extremists who get involved in violence.) Just my 2 cents. 🙂

  3. satan

    I think is is close I read a poll that 78 percent of americans are religious, and that 80 percent of canadians are religious. also I read that 15 to 16 percent of americans have no religious affiliation. while 12 percent of canadians have no religious affiliation though considering the population of the united states is 9 times more then canada’s canada would seem to have more athiests, agnostics, humanists, and non religious people. but possibly only by a few million.

    • Silk

      I’d have to say the poll is very inaccurate. Canada does not have 78% religious people but we do have a fair chunk with no religious affiliation at all. We are very unlike the U.S. in matters of religion.

    • Yeah,well I don’t know where you got that information from but that is not true at all.Because every other website shows that Canada is actually less of a religious conservative country than the USA.

  4. Pingback: The Great Deception | Tim Graff

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