Canadians are getting less religious — and Red Deerians are no exception.
According to the latest Statistics Canada survey, 43.9 per cent of Red Deerians reported having no religious affiliation in in 2021, (when 98,045 people were surveyed and 43,050 identified as non-religious).
This is nearly 10 per cent higher than a decade ago.
By comparison in 2011, 34.6 per cent of Red Deerians reported having no religion (when 88,735 people were surveyed and 30,710 identified as non-religious).
The decline in religious feeling is mirroring what’s happening in the rest of Canada, where more than one in three Canadians are reporting having no religious affiliation. StatsCan’s latest report indicates about 12.6 million people in this country of 38 million are either atheists, agnostic, humanist or hold secular perspectives.
This portion of the population has more than doubled in 20 years, rising from 16.5 per cent in 2001 to 23.9 per cent in 2011 and to 34.6 per cent in 2021.
And immigration can’t account for the decline in religion. StatsCan found that new Canadians tend to be more religious on average. Only 21 per cent of those who were admitted into this country from 2011 to 2021 reported having no religious leanings.
Statistics Canada is extrapolating that the main reason for growth in the non-religious category is that many people who reported a religious affiliation in the past are no longer feeling a connection to a faith.
This aligns with a survey from 2019 that found fewer Canadians reporting the importance of religious or spiritual beliefs in their lives (down to 54.1 per cent from 71 per cent in 2003.)
Fewer Red Deerians surveyed in 2021 identify as Christian. In 2021, 51 per cent of Red Deerians considered themselves were Christian, compared to 62 per cent in 2011.
Church attendance is at an all-time low, with the exception of evangelical groups. Half of Canadians reported never attending a group religious activity and only 23 per said they did at least once a month in a previous StatsCan survey. (This figure was 30 per cent between 2000 and 2009).
Meanwhile, over the last decade, the numbers of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in Red Deer has more than doubled. The local Jewish population tripled — but is still very low at 105 residents in 2021 compared to only 35 in 2011.
StatsCan reports 2,055 Red Deerians practised the Muslim faith in 2021, while 790 were Hindus, and 285 were Sikhs. This compares to 975 local Muslims, 325 Hindus and 125 Sikhs in 2011.