Canadians still have considerable personal faith and believe in the existence of God — although they might not view the word "religion" favourably — according to a new study from Angus Reid.

The study, which was completed in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, asked Canadians about their personal faith and religion as well as their outlook in life and their sense of belonging to their community.

The study found that Canadians fit into four major groups along a scale from the religiously devout (21 per cent), the privately faithful (30 per cent), the spiritually uncertain (30 per cent) and the non-believers (19 per cent).

Pollster Angus Reid says the survey shows religion is still important to Canadians, despite declining church attendance across Canada.

"There's 21 per cent of Canadians that are religiously committed. They are slightly older, more likely to be women than men... [but] what's really interesting, there's another 30 per cent of Canadians that are privately faithful. They're not going to church, but they believe in God. They believe in an afterlife. They believe that there is an active God. If they pray, somehow their prayers will be heard," he said.

However, the word "religion" did not come with many positive associations. Only one in four Canadians said the word had a positive meaning, and 33 per cent said the word had a negative meaning.

Despite this, Reid said the study also revealed that those who were more religiously inclined reported more community engagement and satisfaction.

"There's a strong relationship between increasing levels of religiosity and three things: level of family satisfaction, a deeper sense of involvement in terms of civic aspects of the community and what morality means."

Reid will be speaking about the results at St. Mark's College at the University of British Columbia on May 2 at 7 p.m. PT.


The Angus Reid Institute survey was an online survey conducted from March 29 to April 3, 2017, among a representative randomized sample of 2,006 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

Listen to the interview with Angus Reid on CBC's The Early Edition