LETTER: The decline of Christianity in Canada and around the world is not surprising

According to the latest Gallup poll, Christianity continues to decline in Europe, North America and other “Western” countries.

Their latest poll found that only 47% of American adults were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. For the first time, the number fell below 50%. A recent poll in the UK claims that only 6% of adults identify as practicing Christians, while 42% say they are non-practicing adherents.

In the United States in 2020, 47% belonged to a church, up from 70% in 1990. Self-identified Christians made up 63% of the United States in 2020, up from 75% in 2011. “Spiritual but not religious” consist of 29% Americans, and the Unaffiliated (not affiliated with an organized religion) consist of 21%.

The numbers can be confusing and there are overlaps in the categories (using different sources), but the conclusion to be drawn is that there has been a steady decline since the 1970s.


It is customary to blame secularism, materialism and anti-religious tendencies for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame the religions themselves for their own situations.


This decline is most evident in Quebec, where the dominant Roman Catholic Church began its downward spiral in the 1900s with the “Quiet Revolution”. Today, about five percent attend church regularly. A similar decline is occurring in Ireland, once considered the most Catholic country in the world.

According to Statistics Canada, we have 68%. 100 claiming any religious affiliation. Those who identify as Christians make up 63% of the population. However, only 23% go to church.

In Atlantic Canada, only 17% attend church, down from 38% in 2019 (the pandemic is also thought to be a factor). The Anglican Church in Canada has grown from 1.3 million in 1961 to 282,000 in 2017. A recent analysis estimated that 9,000 churches will close in Canada over the next decade. We see that happening here as the numbers in most denominations keep dropping.

As the number of members dwindles, fewer are left to continue carrying out the programs and activities of the church. Those who remain are aging or engaged in other charities. The church is no longer in the foreground, more remote, and its presence less visible. People, including those raised as Christians, are now exposed to other forms of religion and given an array of choices if they wish to follow a spiritual path. What we have seen since the 1960s, starting with the baby boomers, each generation is less involved in Christianity. Previously, churches kept numbers because the next generation replaced the previous one. This is no longer the case. At the same time, registered members are less active and involved. Recruitment is difficult for many reasons.

Christians are divided on so many issues – doctrinal, ethical, political, cultural. Outsiders see churches as institutional rot, overt racism, tolerance of sexual abuse, lust for power, denial, self-defense and lack of courage. And there is a general lack of trust in organizations and their leaders, and churches are often viewed as hypocritical and narrow-minded.

It is customary to blame secularism, materialism and anti-religious tendencies for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame the religions themselves for their own situations.

Tomas Halik, an RC priest, says this time of empty church buildings exposes the hidden emptiness of the church. . . Unless they can show the world a completely different face of Christianity, the decline will continue.

Abraham Heschel claims that a religion declines not because it has been refuted, but because it has become purposeless, dull, oppressive, insipid, where faith is replaced by belief, worship by discipline, l love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an inheritance rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.

Currently, the fastest growing form of Christianity is Pentecostalism. One of the reasons for its growth is its emphasis on evangelism and conversion.

Everett Hobbs,
South Bay Design

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