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July 25, 2014

In Sudan, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was sentenced to hang in early May 2014 - basically for being a Christian.  After global protests, she was freed and although initially barred from leaving Sudan she has now arrived safely in Rome.   More.

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The questions asked in surveys are often too shallow to get at what people really think about religion.  But now a recent survey of Canadians has come up with answers about belief in God, spirituality, credibility of religion, afterlife, whether God is a personal god, does religion cause conflict and integration of religious minorities.  The survey was taken between September 2009 and February 2010 and published Sept 3, 2010.  It was conducted by the Carleton University Survey Centre with the support of the Association for Canadian Studies.

The big surprise is that only 30% of Canadians "know God really exists and have no doubts".  The rest are either atheist, agnostic or believe in a higher power.  The whole concept of "higher power" is so vague that it essentially rejects most organized religions.  Certainly it rejects Islam and Christian religions.  Young people and Quebecers are the least sure that God really exists!  However, 45% follow a religion so many Church-goers (religion followers) are not sure there's a god – do they go to Church for tradition or social reasons? [See detailed tables and link to full report below]

But most Canadians are tolerant – only 3.6% say that only one religion has "the Truth" and 74% think that religion has "some truth".  But at the same time 74% say that religion "brings conflict" and that "religious people are too intolerant".  Despite this,  71% say they respect all religions although 59% feel that members of religious minorities "do not want to integrate into society".

When it comes to their idea of what religion is about, approx half of Canadians see themselves as spiritual, whether or not they follow a religion.  Only half believe in life after death plus an amazing 27% believe in re-incarnation.  Although 50% believe in heaven, only 32% believe in hell!  50% believe in miracles.  It seems that while Canadians may not be very religious, they are still superstitious.

The key belief that is the basis for most religions is the idea of a personal god.  Does God care about individual humans?  Only 35% think that "God concerns himself with every human being personally".  Although this would mean the majority think personal prayer is not listened to, large majorities think that Religion helps people find inner peace, make friends and gain comfort.

The whole thing gives hope that people are turning away from the mumbo-jumbo of organized religion but the barrier seems to be the need to be spiritual and take comfort from traditional beliefs.

A selection of tables from the report are given below.  Or you can download the full report of the survey here (Article plus 22 tables of data).

Belief in God

Table 1


Closest to R's belief in God
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
I don't believe in God 7,1% 8,4% 6,5% 6,8%
Don't know whether there is a god, don't believe there is a way to find out 11,6% 12,6% 11,2% 11,3%
Don't believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a higher Power 20,4% 23,5% 20,7% 17,3%
I find myself believing in God some time, but not at others 9,7% 14,3% 8,3% 7,5%
While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God 19,7% 16,0% 22,5% 19,5%
I know God really exists and I have no doubts 30,2% 23,5% 29,6% 36,8%
DK ,5% ,8%   ,8%
NA ,7% ,8% 1,2%  
Total 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0%

 

2. Spirituality and Religion

Table 8


Best describes respondents views
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
I follow a religion, am a spiritual person 19,7% 20,2% 18,3% 21,1%
Follow a religion, am not a spiritual person 25,7% 23,5% 23,7% 30,1%
Don't follow a religion, am a spiritual person 22,6% 23,5% 26,0% 17,3%
Don't follow a religion, am not a spiritual person 21,6% 24,4% 20,1% 21,1%
Can't choose 9,7% 8,4% 11,2% 9,0%
NA ,7%   ,6% 1,5%
Total 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0%

 

3. Truth in Religion

Table 10


Closest to Rs own views
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
There is very little truth in religion 12,1% 13,4% 14,2% 8,3%
There are basic truths in religion 74,3% 74,8% 76,3% 71,4%
There is truth only on one religion 3,6% 5,0% 1,8% 4,5%
Can't choose 9,0% 6,7% 7,1% 13,5%
NA 1,0%   ,6% 2,3%
Total 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0%

 

4. The Next Life and Miracles

Table 13


Yes definitely and Probably
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
Life after death 53.5% 59.7% 54.5% 46.6%
Belief in Reincarnation 26.6% 36.2% 28.4% 15.8%
Belief in Heaven 50.4% 56.4% 46.8% 51.1%
Belief in Hell 32.3% 35,3% 32.6% 29.3%
Belief in Religious Miracles 50.1% 48.8% 51.5% 49.6%
Belief in supernatural powers of deceased ancestors 24.9% 33..6% 27.8% 13.5%

 

5. Is God with us

Table 15


% Agree
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
God concerns Himself with every human being personally 34.4% 37.8% 40.6% 38.0%
People Can do little to change life 10.7% 6,7% 10.0% 15.0%
Life Meaningful Because God Exists 20.2% 16.8% 17.1% 27.0%
Religion Helps People Find Inner Peace 75.1% 73.9% 73.4% 78.2%
Religion Helps People Make Friends 65.3% 73.1% 60.9% 64.0%
Religion helps People Gain Comfort 88.2% 93.3% 84.6% 88.0%
Own way of
connecting with God
54.6% 52.9% 52.2% 46.6%

 

6. Religion and Conflict

Table 17


% strongly agree and agree
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
Religion brings conflict 73.8% 60.5% 78.1% 80.5%
Religious people too intolerant 74.4% 67.2% 76,9% 77.4%
Equal rights for religious groups 58.4 58.8 58.5 57.9
Respect all religions 71.0 74.0 68.6 71.4
Accept person from different religion: marrying a relative. 86.5 90.0 89.3 79.7

 

7. The Paradox of Integration of Religious Minorities

Table 19


% Agree
Total 18-40 41-59 60+
Members of religious minorities should give up their customs and traditions 21.2% 11.7% 18.3% 33.1%
Members of religious minorities do not want to integrate into society 58.9% 50.4% 59.2% 66.1%

 

Table 21

  Society is threatened by the influx of non-Christian immigrants Society has been strengthened by the diversity of religious groups Society should try harder to accept customs and traditions of minority religious
  English French English French English French
Strongly agree 8,5% 14,3% 16,5% 6,7% 20,4% 9,5%
Agree 35,9% 42,9% 43,0% 36,2% 47,5% 33,3%
Neither agree nor disagree 29,6% 26,7% 31,0% 40,0% 21,8% 34,3%
Disagree 25,7% 14,3% 9,2% 14,3% 8,5% 21,0%
NA ,4% 1,9% ,4% 2,9% 1,8% 1,9%
Total 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 100,0%

 

Download the full report of the survey here.

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