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Canadians finding faith as Americans lose it: survey on importance of religion

By Hayatullah Amanat, writer

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — A new survey by Research Co. reveals that Canadians are less likely than their neighbours to the south to prioritize their faith, but suggests that spirituality is rising in Canada, and may be declining in the U.S.

In the online survey, 38 per cent of American respondents stated that religion is “very important” for them personally, while 25 per cent of Canadians said the same.

Research Co. compared the results of the latest poll – conducted in late November – to those of previous surveys.

Canadians were questioned in a similar poll conducted by Research Co. in December 2021, while Americans were last surveyed by the company in November 2020.

The comparison suggested that the percentage of people in Canada who consider religion “very important” is actually up three points since last year’s polling. In the U.S., the number of people in that category dipped by 10 points.

“On religion, there is a pronounced generational gap in the United States. Only 28 per cent of Americans aged 18 to 34 acknowledge that religion is very important to them, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 35 to 45 and 42 per cent of those aged 55 and over,” said Research Co. president Mario Canseco in a news release earlier this month.

Breaking down the data, results show that 27 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 said religion is “very important” for them, while it was very important for 25 per cent of respondents aged 35 to 54, and 22 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and over.

Research Co. said 66 per cent of Americans stated they consider themselves as “very spiritual” or “moderately spiritual.” In Canada, 53 per cent of respondents feel the same way. The number of spiritual Canadians appears from the surveys to be increasing, while the number of Americans who describe themselves as spiritual has gone down.

Looking at specific religions, Research Co. data shows that there is a slight drop in the proportion of Canadians who describe their religion as Christian8 (48 per cent) compared to 2021. But the number of Canadians who consider themselves as atheist, agnostic or as having no religion increased to 37 per cent – up three percentage points.

In the U.S. the proportion of self-described Christians fell by seven points, from 70 per cent to 63 per cent since 2020. As with Canada, the number of people who described themselves as atheist, agnostic or as having no religion increased in the U.S. by six points, from 19 per cent to 25 per cent.

In the survey, 32 per cent of Canadians said they never attend religious gatherings, down just one point from the 2021 survey results. Two in five stated that they attend religious gatherings for special events such as weddings, funerals or baptisms.

Data shows that only 15 per cent of Canadians attend a church, temple or synagogue at least once a week, down one point from last year.

In the U.S., 23 per cent of respondents (down 15 points) said they attend a religious gathering at least once a week, while 27 per cent of Americans (up seven points) said they never go to church .and 29 per cent (up eight points) only do so in special occasions.

Research Co. asked what else mattered to residents of both countries, and found that affluence ranked lower than religion in Canada by 14 per cent (up three points from 2021). But, the rate for career was higher, with 36 per cent saying it was very important to them.

The rating for “country” as an important component of life was even higher, at 47 per cent, and 60 per cent considered “friends” very important. Family ranked the highest with 81 per cent calling it a key component in their lives.

When it comes to U.S. respondents, 12 per cent said affluence was important to them. Unlike in Canada, affluence decreased in importance when comparing the results of the 2020 and 2022 surveys.

Looking at what else matters to Americans, 31 per cent said career was very important, a component that has increased since the first year of the pandemic, according to Research Co.’s data. But the numbers were higher for country, with 51 per cent calling this very important.

As with Canadians, friends and family seemed to be Americans’ biggest priorities, with 55 per cent and 77 per cent calling these categories “very important.” METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted online from Nov. 26 to Nov. 28 this year. About 1,000 adults from Canada and the U.S. were involved in the survey. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian and U.S. census figures for age, gender and region in each country.

Reporting for this story was paid for through The Afghan Journalists in Residence Project funded by Meta.

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