Mainline Declines in Canada Religion Census. (News)

The Christian Century, June 14, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Mainline Declines in Canada Religion Census. (News)


Canada is still largely a Catholic country, but the secularism that has been the hallmark of West European nations has gained a foothold. Like the U.S., Canada is becoming more evangelical as mainline churches slip.

Data culled from the 2001 Canadian census, released May 12, show that 12.8 million Canadians are Roman Catholic, a 4.8 percent increase since 1991. But the proportion of Canadians who are Catholic declined to 43 percent from 45 percent. The next largest faith group is Protestant, at nearly 30 percent, or 8.6 million people. Overall, there was an 8.2 percent decline in the number of Protestants.

A sharp rise in evangelical numbers coincided with a drop in mainline churches. The United, Anglican and especially the Presbyterian churches all experienced significant declines in their memberships. Membership in the United Church declined 8.2 percent, and the number of Anglicans dropped by 7 percent. But the most dramatic decline was 35 percent among Presbyterians.

Presbyterian spokesman Jim Czegledi said internal figures show that church membership is declining at a rate of between 2 and 3 percentage points a year, and he conceded that it is "very difficult" for the grassroots-based Presbyterian Church to adopt a national strategy to reverse the decline.

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