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Canadians deeply divided over the role of faith in the public square


From the earliest days of human civilization, spiritual practices have been an integral part of daily life in many societies. The modern concept of separation of church and state is a relatively recent development.

In Canada today, matters of religion and affairs of government generally do not mix – except when they do.

A new, national study from the Angus Reid Institute – the latest installment of a year-long partnership with Faith in Canada 150 – canvasses the intersection of faith and public life in Canada, and finds most Canadians seeing at least a small role for religion in the public square. That said, the size and nature of this role varies depending on one’s own personal orientation toward religion, as well as specifics such as which religious group is being considered and what sort of interaction between faith and society is taking place.

Those who are more deeply faithful at a personal level generally have more favourable views of the role of religion in society and a greater desire to see it wield more influence, though even they are skeptical of certain religious traditions and certain government policies dealing with faith issues.

More Key Findings: 

  • Nearly half of Canadians (48%) see religion as contributing “a mix of good and bad” to Canada today, but the rest are more than twice as likely to see religion’s contribution as good (38% do), rather than bad (14%)
  • Specific religions are viewed differently, however, with respondents offering more favourable views of Judeo-Christian traditions, especially Roman Catholicism
  • Asked about specific government policies involving religion, a plurality of Canadians (42%) say a non-denominational prayer should be “welcome” at the start of a municipal meeting

Link to the poll here:

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