Being Pro-Religious, Low Religious, or No Religious in Canada
Are Canadians becoming less religious? After playing a central role in our lives for nearly a century, religion did seem to be losing its salience in Canada and elsewhere. Many observers saw this trend as ongoing and inevitable, reflecting secularization patterns seen elsewhere in the Western world. But there is more to the story.
Reginald Bibby’s Resilient Gods takes an in-depth look at the religious landscape in Canada today. Pulling together extensive data, he finds that a solid core of some 30 percent continue to embrace religion and view it as important in their lives. Concomitantly, a similar proportion indicates that they are rejecting religion. The remaining 40 percent are somewhere in the middle. The picture that emerges is not one of religious decline but rather of religious polarization, with the numbers of “pro-religious,” “no religious,” and “low religious” in flux along a shifting continuum. Such proclivities are influenced by any number of social and cultural factors, one being increased immigration, which has ensured the viability of a pro-religious core in Canada’s foreseeable future.
The gods are here to stay, Bibby argues, but so what? Using the most current information available, including unique national survey data, he explores the implications of pro-religious, no-religious, and low-religious choices for personal and social well-being, spirituality, and attitudes towards death. The questions he asks are compelling and the answers thought-provoking whether one embraces the gods or not.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars in sociology and religious studies; accessibly written, it will also appeal to a wide range of readers beyond the formal academic community.
Although there are few differences between Canadians who are religious and those who are not, religion appears to make a significant contribution to the social well-being of Canadians. Furthermore, this research also looks at spirituality and the attitudes of Canadians toward death, their beliefs in God, life after death, heaven, and so forth. Bibby concludes that in Canada and around the world, people variously embrace religion, reject religion, or take something of a middle position, and, despite secularization, the gods are still resilient. This comparative, insightful, illuminating book is a major contribution to the sociology of religion. Summing Up: Highly Recommended
Reg Bibby is Canada’s foremost accountant of religious trends, a sociologist who has told us more about our religious make-up than – not just anyone else, but everyone else. He has been telling us about ourselves in clear, simple, and suggestive terms with unequalled influence.
Reginald Bibby is one of Canada’s most talented, prolific, and popular sociologists. While he has achieved elite status in the discipline, he also writes incisively and with flair for the educated public. Bibby is one of the three or four most widely read Canadian sociologists ever.
Among contemporary sociologists I can think of no one that has been more acclaimed, and in such diverse places, as Professor Bibby. His scholarship has been consistent and compelling. Bibby’s work has touched ordinary Canadians in ways that few sociologists have achieved. Today we understand a great deal more about Canadian society because of his important contributions.
Professor Bibby’s data are a national treasure. But his abiding contribution is making that research “talk” to us as Canadians. He is the best-known public sociologist in Canada – a sociological rock star.
Reginald W. Bibby, OC, has held the Board of Governors Research Chair in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge since 2001. For more than four decades, he has been monitoring social trends in Canada through a series of well‑known Project Canada national surveys of adults and teenagers. These surveys have produced unparalleled trend data and have been described by colleagues and the media as “a national treasure.” His current surveys include a number carried out in partnership with Angus Reid.
Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts on religious and social trends, Professor Bibby has presented his findings in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He has spoken at Canadian universities that include British Columbia and Victoria, Alberta and Calgary, Regina and Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Lakehead, Ottawa, Queen’s, McMaster, Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, Toronto, Acadia, Prince Edward Island, and St. Francis Xavier. He has also made numerous presentations in Montreal and Quebec City. Outside Canada, he has presented his work at universities that include Oxford, Notre Dame, and Harvard.
His commitment to taking his work beyond the academic community has resulted in a large number of public appearances and a high media profile. Maclean’s alone has featured his research with four cover stories. Professor Bibby has written fifteen books that to date have sold more than 160,000 copies. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the nation, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006.
1 The Early Days of God’s Dominion
2 Declining Religious Participation among Boomers
3 Pro-Religion, Low Religion, and No Religion
4 The Polarized Mosaic
5 Religious Inclinations and Personal Well-Being
6 Religious Inclinations and Social Well-Being
7 Religion versus Spirituality
8 Dealing with Death
9 The Resilience of Religion
Notes; References; Index
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