Cultivating the Christmas Spirit Takes More Than Good Feelings

Cardus 2022

New survey finds faith super-charges charitable giving, volunteering, and helping strangers


December 21, 2022
HAMILTON, ON – New research suggests there’s a strong connection between engaging with a sacred text and behaviours that help others. Canadians who had read, heard, or otherwise engaged with a sacred text in the last 12 months were more much likely to have donated to a charity (68%), volunteered (48%), or helped a stranger (65%) than those who hadn’t engaged with a sacred text (53%, 33%, 51% respectively) according to a major survey by the Angus Reid Institute for Cardus. The survey also found that around 64 percent of Canadians who have a sacred text at home, such as the Christian Bible, Jewish Torah, or Muslim Qur’an, never or hardly ever read it. One in five read their sacred text at least weekly.

“We often associate the lead-up to Christmas as a time of generous giving,” says Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, Faith Communities Program Director at Cardus. “But we also need to remember that faith communities foster a generous culture inspired by what their sacred texts proclaim about ministering to the world. A deeply pluralist society makes room for those communities, as well as those of no faith, to live out their beliefs fully and publicly.”

Meanwhile, Canadians hold some contradictory beliefs about sacred texts. Around 21 percent see these books as having “ageless truths” relevant to today and 39 percent find at least “some good suggestions” in them. Yet 52 percent of Canadians also see no role for sacred texts in helping to define laws or how we live together as a society. And 65 percent say teachers should not expose students to the Bible in standard school curriculum while 79 percent say the same about the Qur’an or another sacred text.

“Many of us seem to have bought into the myth that faith is a private matter, so even when we see some value in it, we keep it hidden,” says Rev. Dr. Bennett. “But faith that isn’t lived—and isn’t lived publicly—isn’t faith at all. Schools, governments, and media need to remain open to public expressions of faith that are part of our common life.”

The Cardus and Angus Reid Institute sacred texts survey is freely available online.

For more information, see the following:


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Shachi Kurl
Angus Reid Institute – President


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.