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Poll: 59% Say Charter Right of Religious Freedom Improves Canada


November 23, 2018

Fifty-nine percent of Canadians say they believe religious freedom – a fundamental freedom the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects – makes Canada a better country. That finding comes from a new Angus Reid Institute survey of 2,200 adults done in partnership with Cardus. The same survey finds that appreciation of religious freedom is higher among young adults, with 64 percent of those aged 18 to 34 saying it makes Canada better. Appreciation of religious freedom jumps to 72 percent among those who are university-educated.

“While I wish the overall proportion of Canadians valuing religious freedom were higher, it bodes well for the future that young adults and those with university education are the most supportive of this fundamental freedom,” says Ray Pennings, Executive Vice President of Cardus. “Taken with the high proportion of immigrants who bring their faith to Canada, our country could be heading toward a more faith-friendly future.”

The survey found some warning signs about hostility to faith:

  • 32 percent of Canadians say society makes room for their personal values and faith, while 23 percent feel society shuts them out
  • Half of Canadians are uncomfortable with religious garments and symbols in the workplace
  • 53 percent of Canadians say reducing the presence of religion in public life is a sign of progress

Other findings suggest religious faith is an important part of Canadian life today:

  • 75 percent of Canadians like having people of diverse religious backgrounds in their community
  • 73 percent of Canadians say the federal government respects their religious community, though feelings vary widely depending on religious background
  • 70 percent of Canadians consider it important for government decision makers to know the basics about the world’s major religions
  • 68 percent of Canadians want public schools to teach the basics of the world’s major religions

“Religious freedom is a key part of maintaining genuine and deep pluralism where we respect and engage each other’s differences,” says Pennings. “It protects the ability of the religious and non-religious to act according to their deepest beliefs—informing our freedoms of speech, association, and assembly.”

These findings are part of a larger Public Faith Index study. The full study is available online.

To book an interview with Ray Pennings, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508