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Faith still a powerful personal force, poll finds

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More than half of Canadians say faith informs their day-to-day tasks
By Michael Swan

TORONTO

Photo: Angus Reid (left) smiles next to St. Mark's College president Peter Meehan during a recent visit to Vancouver. (BCC file photo)

An Angus Reid Institute Poll has found that a majority of Canadians don’t just have a faith, they use it.

Fifty-nine per cent of Canadians told Angus Reid their faith is either “very important” or “quite important” to how they deal with major life challenges and problems.

More than half, 52 per cent, say they apply their faith when thinking about public issues. A solid majority of 55 per cent say faith is important to how they conduct their day-to-day lives. A similar number, 54 per cent, say their personal identity – how they see themselves – is formed by faith.

Women were the most likely to confess the importance of faith to the pollsters. And faith is more important to Canadians as they get older. For women over the age of 55, 69 per cent said their faith is either “very” or “quite” important in dealing with major challenges and problems. For men between 18 and 34, 47 per cent agreed.

Father Murray Kuemper is not surprised and is heartened that people realize faith affects who they are, what they think, and how they act.

“Faith, and active engagement in faith, certainly makes a difference in terms of the issues that are then spoken about,” said the St. Peter’s Seminary lecturer in moral theology in London, Ont.

“It shows that faith still has a place in the public discourse. People of faith certainly have and need to have an involvement in the public sphere.”

The Angus Reid measure of faith comes from an online poll of 2,006 adults from coast to coast conducted between March 29 and April 3. The pollsters consider a sample this size accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Individual freedom, or freedom to choose, remains a strong value for Canadians when it comes to the two issues most often associated with religious conviction – abortion and euthanasia. Four out of five Canadians (79 per cent) ranked “people’s freedom to choose” over “the value of preserving life,” when asked which is the highest priority.

Only among the most religiously committed – one-fifth of Canadians – did a slim majority of 56 per cent choose life over the freedom to choose.

But day-to-day experience and other polling data tells Kuemper large numbers of Canadians actually believe there should be some restrictions on abortion. A February 2016 poll by Ipsos found 43 per cent of Canadians favoured some restriction on abortion.

“If people could get the courage to actually speak from their convictions, we might be looking at some different numbers,” he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 12:19  

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