PUBlic Professor Series | Dr. Reg Bibby

Beyond the Gods & Back: The Return of Religion in Canada

Dr. Reg Bibby, Department of Sociology

As the 20th century wound down, many observers felt that religion in Canada was a thing of the past. People were moving on to other things, with churches and other worship places starting to look like symbols of yesteryear – not unlike ghost towns and empty grain elevators. However – and that’s a big HOWEVER – those readings of religion have proven to be remarkably inaccurate. As Canada approaches its 150th anniversary, what has set in is religious polarization. Yes, there’s no doubt that a growing segment of people are choosing to live “religion-free” lives. But a solid core, fueled increasingly by immigrants, continues to embrace faith. And then there’s that intriguing segment in “the religious middle,” neither opting out nor opting in.

In the midst of all this, what’s fascinating to keep an eye on is “the so-what question” – the implications for personal and collective life in Canada. Are we happier, more civil, more compassionate, and better able to express spirituality and deal with death when we live life with religion or choose to live without it?

These are some of the issues and questions that will be addressed in this up-to-date presentation by Canada’s foremost religion trend-tracker. He draws material from two new 2016 books – one an updated, Beyond the Gods & Back reading of religion generally, and the other, written with pollster Angus Reid, which looks specifically at the country’s largest group and carries the title, Canada’s Catholics.

You may cheer or you may jeer – but Bibby will make you think! Research article: Bibby asks the questions that are on everyone's mind

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