"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Monday, February 05, 2007

Vocal minorities

While doing some quick research on the religious make-up of India to fact-check a story our paper was running, I was surprised to find that Christians, comprising 2.3 percent of the population, outnumber Sikhs (1.9 percent) Buddhists (0.8 percent) and Jains (0.4 percent) in India. The second largest group is Muslims (13.4 percent) with the dominant Hindu faith comprising 80.5 percent of the population (all figures are for 2001).

Casting about on the web for a similar set of figures for Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the second largest "religious" grouping in Canada is atheist/agnostic/no religion.
Looking at the census data it is clear that not only is Canada becoming less Christian-dominated in terms of overall demographics, but that the bible-thumping literalist fundementalist Christian denominations are shrinking faster than the more liberal Christian faiths like the United Church.

We are still mostly Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church predominant at 43 percent of the population as a whole (cough Quebec cough) but the reality based community is number two with a bullet, doubling to about 16 percent of the population since 1981. The evangelical, apostolic and born-again churches have also doubled their following --- and here's the real kicker --- to a whopping 2.5 percent. That's right, in contrast to the U.S. where this group is growing at an alarming rate, there just aren't that many of them in Canada - 780,000 in 2001. So even if you include the other conservative leaning Christian faiths - the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, the Baptists (and Canadian Baptists are to Southern Baptists as Peewee hockey stars are to Wayne Gretzky) the numbers of the faithful still don't come close to the number of people who ticked the "none of the above" box for religion on the 2001 census. Suck on that you Focus on the Family, queer-hating, home-skoolin', what-about-the-children-for-God's-sake-what-about-the-children, Rapture-awaiting, book-banning, pulpit-pounding thickhead true believers.

Now would someone please explain to me why this tiny group of very vocal Christian cultist seem to have Stephen Harper's nutsack in a death-grip? Surely if you want to court the largest voting blocs in the country your priorities are the French Catholics, followed by the WASAA's (White Anglo-Saxon atheists and agnostics) and Christian liberals in the United Church.

So why do the Fundamentalists wield so much power in Ottawa and other centers of government.? Why do they have their own TV channels and carry so much weight with school boards and local governments? Why don't we pay them so much heed and the large chunk of the population that has no strong interest in religion so little? Is it because atheists tend to be lone wolves politically, running the full political spectrum from neofascist right-wing libertarian traditionalists to commie pinko anarchists to live-and-let-live libertarian liberals, while fundamentalist congregations tend to be flocks of voting sheep?

Follow the link for a whole bunch of interesting facts and figures about how Canada does religion.

The top ten:

Roman Catholic 12.8 million 43.2% of the population

No religion 4.8 million 16.2%

United Church 2.8 million 9.6%

Anglican 2.0 million 6.9%

Other Christian, 780 thousand 2.6%

Baptist 729 thousand 2.5%

Lutheran 607 thousand 2.0%

Muslim 580 thousand 2.0%

Other Protestant 549 thousand 1.9%

Presbyterian 410 thousand 1.4%

For the record, Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists each comprised about 1 percent of the population.
All figures from the 2001 census, as compiled by Religious Tolerance.org, who have it all laid out in a nice chart at the link above.

Another interesting tidbit:"About 37% of people in the Yukon, 35% in British Columbia, and 23% in Alberta reported no religion. This compares to 6% in Quebec, and fewer than 2% in Newfoundland & Labrador."

I can understand how spending winters in the Yukon might convince you that there is no God, but 23 percent of people Alberta, usually portrayed as Canada's Bible belt, rejecting organized religion was a bit of a shock.


David Webb said...

" but 23 percent of people Alberta, usually portrayed as Canada's Bible belt, rejecting organized religion was a bit of a shock."

Except you have to factor in the massive influx of people from the ROC (now not for Quebec only!). The brain drain to Alberta has been going on for quite a while now, so I am guessing those outsiders are skewing the numbers. That plus the fact that the "god-fearing Albertans" are really, really vocal.

JJ said...

Rev., LOL, you beat me! After I saw the link you left at my place, I thought hmm, this is worth blogging about;)

I was surprised, no, shocked, to see (1) How low the number of fundies really is; (2) The atheist numbers (we're takin' over, baby!)

Maybe the reason the fundies seem so much larger than they are might be related the the Catholic Church? There are 2 issues conservative catholics and fundies have in common, abortion and gay marriage. They've become a united voice against those things. Even though they snipe behind each others' backs that (a) catholicism is the "one true religion", or (b) if you don't believe the literal word of the bible you're going to hell.

In any event, fundies still have a voice and influence disproportionate to their numbers. I blame it on those 2 "galvanizing issues", something that moderates don't really have.

JJ said...

Sorry, by "moderates" I meant "progressives/atheists/agnostics"