Less than half of the United Church of Canada members believe strongly in God.

An ambitious survey of Canadians on the subject of their religious attitudes reveals an astonishing decline of the Christian faith in Canada, particularly among members of the country’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada. Less than half of its members profess an unequivocal belief in God.

“Organized religion in Canada is experiencing a dramatic drop-off,” sociologist Reginald Bibby says. “Churches are losing many of their once-active members and adherents, while failing to replenish such loses.…” He adds that his survey shows little likelihood that the trend will change.

Bibby, head of the sociology department at Alberta’s University of Lethbridge, bases his analysis on an 11-page, 303-item questionnaire answered by nearly 2,000 people across the nation. The project was supported by the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian government, and the University of Lethbridge.

The randomly selected respondents reflect the nation’s religious spectrum, but because the responses were broken down by religious affiliations, Canadians have a revealing first-ever national religious profile. (The affiliations analyzed are Anglican, United, Roman Catholic, conservative, other Protestant, and none.)

Regarding the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, and life after death, United and Anglican church members consistently scored below the national average. “It seems noteworthy,” Bibby observes, “that only about 40 percent of actual United church members claim unequivocal belief in God and the divinity of Jesus.” By contrast, he found, conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics are far more likely to ...

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