From The National Post
Organized religion on the decline? Growing number of Canadians ‘spiritual but not religious’
Kathryn Blaze Carlson | Dec 21, 2012 9:46 PM ET | Last Updated: Dec 21, 2012 9:58 PM ET
Rev. Juanita Austin realized her Salmon Arm, B.C., church’s advertising campaign resonated when a stranger at the grocery store interrupted her shopping and thanked the First United Church for putting out such a welcoming message. “Is there a church out there that gets being Spiritual but not Religious?” the ad asks. “Check us out.”
The ad does not disguise the church’s Christian affiliation — it bears a cross within a flame and the motto “a church with a difference.” But it also features a rainbow, the symbol of inclusivity made ubiquitous by the gay community, in the hopes of attracting reluctant believers into its dwindling fold.
The ad — produced with the help of a marketing consultant and released ahead of the Christmas season — was born out of the church sensing a shift it now knows to be a reality: More and more Canadians are turning away from organized religion, shunning dogma and church attendance for a vaguer notion of spirituality. They are spiritual, but not religious.
A new Forum Research poll, commissioned exclusively for the National Post, shows two-thirds of Canadians are spiritual while just half say they are religious. And a quarter of those who profess “no religion” still expressly believe in God. The poll comes at a time when church attendance rates are dipping, when most Canadians say they do not consider religion important and when claiming “no religion” is a more common answer than ever before — less than 1% of Canadians ticked off “no religion” four decades ago, but according to 2001 census data, the latest such data available, 16% marked that box.