God is still doing reasonably well in the polls

A majority of Canadians continue to believe in God, according to the most recent national survey by University of Lethbridge sociologist Dr. Reginald Bibby.

Bibby has been charting the God numbers through national surveys from the mid-1970s to December of this year.

“God is not faring all that badly in the polls,” says Bibby. “Some 60 per cent of Canadians continue to believe in God and only 15 per cent say they definitely don’t. Those numbers represent a decline in clear-cut believers since the mid-1970s, but show that belief in God is still widespread in Canada.”

Over the years, the surveys have provided interesting insights about Canadians’ spiritual beliefs. His first Project Canada survey in 1975 found that only two per cent of Canadians said they didn’t believe in God. That figure has now increased to 16 per cent. In 1975, agnostics comprised six per cent of survey respondents; in 2020, agnostics comprise 13 per cent.

Bibby’s surveys have been able to track various age cohorts, including Baby Boomers. As Boomers have aged, they and their aging parents have been less inclined to express decisive belief in God. About one in 10 have opted for atheism.

Belief in God is slightly higher in Saskatchewan and the Atlantic regions, as it is among women and people born outside of Canada. Levels of belief are slightly lower among younger adults and university graduates.

As would be expected, belief in God is considerably higher among the 75 per cent of Canadians who identify with religious groups than it is among the 25 per cent who say they have no religion.

“The God findings provide a further reminder of the reality of the growing diverse responses to religion in Canada,” says Bibby. “This religious polarization includes individuals who can be described as pro-religious, low religious and no religious.”

Bibby’s latest survey finds that 25 per cent of Canadians are pro-religious, 45 per cent are low religious and about 30 per cent are no religious.

“During this time of year when faith has traditionally been on the minds of many, more Canadians than in the past have said goodbye to the gods. But large numbers — in fact the majority — have not,” says Bibby.

Bibby has been monitoring social trends in Canada for the past 45 years and making his findings publicly available. One of his most recent religion books is Resilient Gods: Being Pro-Religious, Low Religious, or No Religious in Canada. This latest survey was conducted in partnerships with Andrew Grenville and Maru/Blue Research using a representative online sample of 3,029 people.