Religion increasingly seen as doing more harm than good in Canada: Ipsos poll

Religion increasingly seen as doing more harm than good in Canada: Ipsos poll - image
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Just over half of Canadian respondents say they believe religion does more harm than good in the world, according to a new survey.

The Ipsos poll, conducted for Global News, showed that 51 per cent of respondents agreed with the above statement.

“There’s a lot that’s happening in the world right now in the name of religion,” Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Affairs, said. “Of course, ISIL being the primary example that’s using religion to justify what they’re doing.”

Simpson explained that the number is rising; when Ipsos asked the same question in 2011, 44 per cent of respondents agreed.

“But I think we hear about these incidents more often, not just because they may be happening more often but because of the information age.

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“We’ve got 24-hour news cycles and social media and Twitter where we hear about every incident so it’s not surprising to me that a growing number of Canadians believe it does more harm than good.”

What he did find surprising was that Quebec, once considered to be Canada’s most religious province, is now the most secular.

Compared to the rest of Canada, Quebecers are significantly more likely than residents of other provinces to feel religion does more harm than good (62 per cent). They’re also more inclined (18 per cent) to lose respect for people when they find out they are religious.

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Conversely, fewer people believe that people who are religious have the higher moral ground — in fact, most disagree with that, Simpson said.

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Only 24 per cent of respondents said they believed religious people are better citizens, down eight points from 2011.

The poll also found that despite their views on whether or not it’s harmful, Canadians are very tolerant of others’ religions. Nine out of 10 respondents said they were “completely comfortable being around people who have different religious beliefs than me.”

Only 13 per cent of respondents said they lose respect for someone when they find out they are religious. That number jumps to 18 per cent when you look specifically at Quebec.

Religion and politics

Continuing the trend, there’s also a declining view that religion should play a role in politics. Twenty years ago, 45 per cent of respondents to a similar poll said that religion should play an important part in political life.

In this year’s poll, that number was down 11 points; only 34 per cent say religion and politics should intersect.

The Ipsos poll was conducted on behalf of Global News between March 20-23, 2017 using a sample of 1,001 Canadians from Ipsos I-Say panel. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.


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