Supplementary Material:
Canadian and American Religion Redux

(Published in Studies in Religion/ Sciences Religieues)

Revisiting American Christianity's Religious Exceptionalism And Resilience Compared to Canada


cover thumbnailThe Supplementary Material summarized here is based on two studies – the ‘Worldviews Studies’ -- conducted by Hay Research International in Canada (N= 2400) and America (N=1500) in 2012-2013. Both of these surveys were based on similar comparative work first conducted in 2002. The purposes of these studies were twofold: first, to understand the content of belief in a comprehensive way in each country in the context of both secular and religious belief systems and second, to assess the impact of various religious and nonreligious worldview positions on ‘values’.

Care was taken in these studies not to privilege any form of religious or secular belief. The intent was to allow all forms of ‘belief’ or ‘worldviews’– whether traditionally religious, spiritual but not religious, humanistic, atheist, agnostic, materialistic, naturalistic, sciencebased, existential and so on -- to emerge without, consciously or otherwise, favouring any particular position. While religious affiliation and religious behaviours were captured, this was done within the body of the interview rather than early on in the interview. In the analysis stage, the use of multivariate clustering techniques allowed naturally occurring worldview groups to emerge. This allowed us to answer the question “What do Canadians and Americans believe?” without framing this question in terms of a reference to the usual religious and spiritual polarities.

To capture religious affiliation traditionally understood, respondents were later asked about their religious affiliation growing up and whether this had changed in their lifetime. They were then asked about their current attendance and the frequency of this. The resulting levels of attendance at religious services were similar to other studies conducted in Canada and America in this period. For example, in the ‘Canadian Worldviews Study’ (2012), a total of 14 percent of Canadians indicated that they attended a house of worship weekly or more often. This compares to 16 percent claiming to attend weekly in Angus Reid’s 2015 Canadian study (N=3041), a study which employed a similar online, opt-in panel methodology1. In our ‘American Worldviews Study’, 31 percent said they attended a house of worship weekly or more compared to 29 percent reporting weekly attendance in U.S. General Social Surveys conducted in the “early 2010s”. 2

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This statistic was sourced directly from the Angus Reid Institute on Sept 24, 2020.

2 As reported by Pew Research in their online article, “In the U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at a Rapid Pace”, October 17, 2019. Retrieved on Sept 26, 2020 from continues-at-rapid-pace.