Religion in Canada, eh?
Non-Christian religious data
from the Canadian 2001 census
Statistics Canada reported the following data on individual faith groups
in their 1991 and 2001 census. Membership include adults and children, and is
self-reported. There are major problems with this method of counting:
||Some individuals identify themselves with a particular religion, even though they have
never been to a religious service in years.
||Some are reluctant to reveal their religious affiliation to a census
taker or pollster who might be a neighbor. Some religious groups are widely
hated by some Canadians. Examples include Wicca,
other Neopagan faiths, Satanism,
||According to Statistics Canada anyone who says they are of a certain
faith is counted as being from that faith. But many people use other
definitions. Many conservative Protestants, for example, do not regard
Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Spiritualists, etc. as Christian.
Some major non-Christian shifts over the decade:
||Canada is becoming increasingly secular, as more people no longer associate
with any organized religion.
||Wiccans and other
Neopagans had the highest percentage growth rate, at over 280%.
||Native Canadian Spirituality is
recovering from centuries of oppression, with a growth rate of about 175%.
||The growth of many non-Christian religions is influenced by immigration.
||"NOTAs" (None Of The Above) -- persons with no religious affiliation -- had the greatest
numerical growth; they increased by 1,463,080 individuals.
||Christianity remains the largest religious
||Christianity in Canada is growing slowly
in total membership, by about 1.5% over the decade.
||Within Christianity, the conservative Protestant groups have the greatest
||However, Christians are declining as a percentage of the population.
We have highlighted in bold those groups which are growing faster than
the total population.
Total numbers and growth between 1991 and 2001:
|Total Canadian population
|No religious affiliation
groups (over 100K):
| Buddhist 1
| Eastern religions, n.i.e.
groups (under 100k)
|Unity - New Thought -
|New Age 3
|| + 05.7
|Other non-Christian religions, n.i.e.
Persons who are not affiliated with a religious group (4,900,095 in total):
|No religious affiliation
It seems curious that Atheists and Humanists show such a rapid percentage
increase, yet Agnostics show a decline. Perhaps we are seeing an increase in
Statistics Canada recognizes Jainism, Shinto, Taoism, etc. as "Eastern
Religions." But other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism,
etc., which are found throughout the same areas of the world, are not listed
as "Eastern." We are at a loss to understand this.
"n.i.e." means "not included elsewhere."
Statistics Canada quoted less than two thousand Canadians who
consider New Age to be their religion. There are
probably hundreds of thousands who graft New Age beliefs and practices onto
another religion who are not counted here.
For no obvious reason, Statistics Canada classified the Unitarian
faith as Christian. A survey of almost 10,000 Unitarian Universalists in the
U.S. found that over 46% were Humanists, and fewer than 10% identified
themselves as Christian.
Most dictionaries define an Atheist as a person as
a person who actively rejects the existence of a God or Goddess or pantheon of
deities. Some Atheists define Atheism as a lack of belief in any supreme deity
||"Religion (95A), Age Groups (7A) and Sex (3) for Population, for
Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas 1 and Census
Agglomerations, 1991 and 2001 Censuses - 20% Sample Data," Statistics
This list also gives membership breakdowns by age groups. This appears to be no
longer a valid URL. A chart remains online at the Stats Can web site at:
Census data from "Statistics Canada...is used with the permission of
Statistics Canada. Users are forbidden to copy the data and redisseminate them, in an original or modified form, for commercial
purposes, without the expressed permission of Statistics Canada.
Information on the availability of the wide range of data from
Statistics Canada can be obtained from Statistics Canada's Regional
Offices, its World Wide Web site at http://www.statcan.ca,
and its toll-free access number 1-800-263-1136."
Copyright © 2004 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-JUL-07
Last update: 2010-FEB-10
Author: B.A. Robinson