Religious Adherence Differs Greatly in Canada and United States

A third of Canadians (32%) say they are atheist, agnostic or have no religion, compared to only 19% of Americans.

Vancouver, BC [December 15, 2020] – Residents of Canada and the United States hold dissimilar views on the importance of specific aspects of their lives, including religion, a new two-country Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of representative national samples, 48% of Americans say religion is “very important” to them personally. In Canada only 24% of respondents feel the same way.

“In the United States, residents aged 18-to-34 are the least likely to consider religion as a very important component of their lives (45%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “In Canada, the number is lowest among residents aged 55 and over (22%).”

Four-in-five residents of each country are in agreement on the extreme importance of family (80% in Canada, 79% in the United States) and majorities (54% in each country) say friends are “very important.”

Americans are more likely to place three other aspects of their lives as “very important” than Canadians: country (62% to 54%), career (40% to 29%) and affluence (21% to 11%).

More than seven-in-ten Americans (73%) and a majority of Canadians (52%) describe themselves as “very spiritual” or “moderately spiritual”.

When asked to describe their religious faith, one-in-five Americans (19%) say they have no religion, are atheist or agnostic—compared to 32% of Canadians.

Quebec and Atlantic Canada have the largest proportion of residents who describe their religion as Christian (70% and 68% respectively), followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan (62%), Alberta (54%), Ontario (51%) and British Columbia (49%).

Attendance to religious gatherings is significantly higher in the United States than in Canada. While 38% of Americans say they go to a church, temple or synagogue at least once a week, only 16% of Canadians follow the same path. 

In addition, 69% of Canadians either never attend religious services or do so only for special events such as weddings, funerals or baptisms, compared to 41% of Americans.

Two thirds of Canadians (68%) and three-in-five Americans (59%) say their preferred greeting for this season is “Merry Christmas”, while 14% of Canadians and 30% of Americans choose “Happy Holidays.”

More than a third of Canadians (37%) and almost half of Americans (48%) say they expect the holidays this year to be “more stressful than fun.” Fewer Canadians (30%) and Americans (36%) think the season will be “more fun than stressful.”

Results are based on online studies conducted from November 14 to November 16, 2020, among representative samples of 1,000 adults in Canada and 1,200 adults in the United States. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian and U.S. census figures for age, gender and region in each country. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points for Canada and +/- 2.8 percentage points for the United States.

Find our data tables for Canada here, the data tables for the United States here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.