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New Canadians tend to be more religious

Pradip Rodrigues

A recent Angus Reid survey showed that Canada’s high levels of immigration are making the country more religious. New Canadians are unsurprisingly twice as likely as other Canadians to attend religious services regularly.

Now this contrasts rather starkly when compared to a poll conducted in December 2013 by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and the Angus Reid Forum, it showed that weekly attendance at religious services in Canada was just 13 percent. That 13 percent includes all faiths, not just Christians.

In the past 50 years, Canadians and most of the western world which was mostly Christians has changed rather radically. A Gallup poll done just after World War II revealed that 67 percent of Canadians had attended a religious service in the previous seven days. Even in the mid-1980s, about one-third of Canadians could still be found in a worship service at some point on any given week.

In 2018, it is more than evident that it is new Canadian Christians from places like the Philippines and Africa are filling up the pews in many churches across the country which would otherwise face closure.

And while Canadians in general move away from religion, new Canadians are embracing their faiths even more tightly than their countrymen in the old countries they left. Mosques, temples and Gurdwaras are being built in places that are filling up with new Canadians following these faiths. Along with grocery stores, places of worship are just as important.

Research shows that foreign-born Canadians are more likely to carry with them a faith-based lifestyle.

The survey also shows the proportion of immigrants from non-Christian religions has risen since the 1980s from 29 to 39 per cent. The percentage of Catholics in that time period has dropped from 31 to 22 per cent, while the number of Protestants has only dropped slightly from 19 to 17 per cent. Those with no religious affiliation have remained at 21 per cent.

New Canadians who may have been less religious back in their old counties often suddenly have a sort of religious awakening soon after they touch down at the airport.

There are a few reasons for this: Being in new and unfamiliar territory makes one feel rather vulnerable and one way to combat the crushing loneliness and uncertainty is to embrace religion. So visiting a place of worship which provides space to acquaint oneself with fellow community members and pray all at the same time.

And while new Canadians cling to their faith more tenaciously than ever, old Canadians and other less religious people are forced to pay close attention to the way they treat and accommodate new Canadians practicing non-traditional faiths. That means there needs to be greater understanding and tolerance for divergent theological, moral, ethical and ideological beliefs. Any Canadian who treats the beliefs of new Canadians dismissively or scornfully risks being hauled before the Human Rights Commission and prosecuted under the Charter Rights. New Canadians are well-versed on their rights and are quick to report any violation or infringement.

In multicultural Canada, Caucasian Canadians who ridicule, question strange customs or roll their eyes at some traditions born out of religion will be prosecuted, no question about it. Their lives will be destroyed.

Being able to criticize and disagree with other peoples’ beliefs is a potential minefield. Anyone daring to raise a legitimate concern about a religious practice that is disruptive or potentially harmful can be destroyed professionally.

While the separation of church and state is held sacrosanct in western democracies, many new Canadians coming from countries where no such separation exists are perplexed and look for ways to flaunt their religious beliefs and wear it on their sleeves or elsewhere. These serve as reminders to society that religion still reigns supreme, especially during elections.

In the next few months as federal electioneering gets underway, you will see pictures and ‘news’ items of politicians and wannabes prostrating themselves in places of worship or greeting worshipers, who are more likely to be worshiping his or her whiteness. It gives new Canadians comfort to know that their safety will be guaranteed by politicians who make such promises in places of worship.

Today in many ethnic communities, a place of worship serves as more than just a place to pray to a higher God. They serve as socializing hubs where people socialize. Newer places of worship are often likely to have a community hall and other spaces that are rented out to members for celebration of religious events. Politicians have realized that capturing ethnic vote banks often begin in a place of worship so naturally politicians from all parties make it a point to be visit such places.

These sort of visits have come to be expected by community leaders and members of the community who look forward to listening to them promise to look after them.

It is time to re-visit the idea of barring politicians from making places of worship defacto campaign stops. -CINEWS

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