A nation divisible


The Vancouver Sun publishes some of the demographic findings of an election day poll conducted by Ipsos Reid.

Attended church/temple at least weekly
Conservative 50% 
NDP 24%
Liberal 18%

Attended church/temple monthly or less
NDP 37%
Conservative 35%
Liberal 16% 


A nation divisible

  1. World would be better place if left wing types went to church more often, did more for society, instead of mocking the religious. But you have to be a sophisticated liberal to understand their own behaviour, I guess.  

    “Despite all this bad news, however, there remains much to celebrate about religion and its relationship with society at large. Not the least of which is that those who attend religious services are the most charitable in their donations and the most eager to volunteer. Without organized religion, the world would be a much poorer and less comfortable place for those less fortunate.” Macleans, Do Atheists Care Less?, May 2010

    • ‘Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.’ 

      • “As a blind man has no idea of colors, so we have no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.” Isaac Newton  

        • That’s nice. Irrelevant but nice.

          Newton was a heretic btw. 

    •  World would be better place if left wing types went to church more often 

      Should it make a difference whether or not they genuinely believe in the church’s dogma?  Or is church going just a good thing for everyone to do regardless?

      • “Should it make a difference whether or not they genuinely believe in the church’s dogma?”

        Hard to say. Anecdotally – some of my family and friends are catholics and anglicans – they seem to volunteer and do other good things because they are not doing too well following dogma. Penance?

        • Is it hard to say? Is it? That people should feel no obligation – moral or otherwise – to regularly go to a place of worship if they have no interests in worshiping that particular deity, much less if they have no interest in worshiping any deity at all?

          I can think of few things that are easier to say. I find it more difficult to say “prerogative” or “nuclear”.

    •  I don’t think it’s the churchgoers that are disliked so much as the dogmatic

      • LOL don’t encourage them. 

    •  Most charitable/volunteering:

      What does the comparison look like when you strip out donations and volunteerism for religious institutions. Paying your priest’s salary counts as charity, but not your cable bill.

      • ” What does the comparison look like when you strip out donations and volunteerism for religious institutions.”

        Why would you do that? I don’t know about other provinces but I do know Ontario’s social services apparatus would collapse without religious involvement. Just one example: Lutherwood.

        Your cable bill doesn’t provide “range of mental health, employment development,housing, and family support services”, or at least mine doesn’t. 

        “Lutherwood is a not for profit organization that provides a wide range of mental health, employment development,housing, and family support services. Lutherwood annually serves more than 18,500 people in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.”

        •  By religious institutions I don’t mean charities that happen to be religious, I mean churches, mosques, temples, etc. Giving money to maintain these facilities or fund their operations is not really charity–it’s just another form of entertainment.

          • “Giving money to maintain these facilities or fund their operations is not really charity–it’s just another form of entertainment.”

            You have no idea, do you? 

            I am in Guelph, here is link to one church Harcourt, one that you would probably support if you were not so ignorant, and please explain how it is not real charity but entertainment.

            Or, better yet, please explain why what Ms Gil does with Saturday Night Suppers is no different than you paying cable bill.


            Saturday Night Suppers: Sixteen Faith Communities take turns preparing and serving Saturday Night Suppers at Royal City Evangelical Church (formerly Chalmers United Church) on Quebec Street in downtown Guelph. Jill Gill organizes the donations of food and the 12 volunteer servers required for each of the 4 suppers that Harcourt provides each year. On average, 140 people receive a warm, healthy meal that they would otherwise not receive.

          •  Maybe you should ask them to offer a program on reading comprehension.

            “By religious institutions I don’t mean charities that happen to be
            religious, I mean churches, mosques, temples, etc. Giving money to
            maintain these facilities or fund their operations is not really
            charity–it’s just another form of entertainment.”

            That church might operate some charities under its auspices, but the church end of things (ie, the building, real estate, utilities, maintenance, and staff) is not charity.

            Sounds like you need to grow a thicker skin.

          • “…but the church end of things (ie, the building, real estate, utilities, maintenance, and staff) is not charity.”

            So what Ms Gill does isn’t charity but entertainment because she prefers to prepare food for homeless in church basement with lights, stove and people to help instead of working in dark over open flame by herself? 

            And there is no difference between donating to church fund to pay for lights, staff and food to operate soup kitchen in church basement and paying cable bill?

            What qualifies as charity to you?

          • I think most who attend church would take exception to your characterizing it as “entertainment”. Some would be offended by your ignorance; others (like me) would laugh at it. Most find it emotionally sustaining and uplifting; i.e. it contributes to emotional and mental health. It encourages activities which contribute directly to society. It builds community – not bricks and mortar, but ties to one another.

            As for the bricks and mortar funding, or salaries: what secular charities don’t pay rent or salaries to their executives? Spurious arguments on your part, Andrew! And quite a lot more than you might think of the money in the collection plate goes to outreach, both locally and worldwide. 

            I find a lot of attitudes of the nonreligious toward the religious are based on assumptions not based in fact or based in a very select few facts that create a distorted view of reality.

            That’s not to say there isn’t room for criticism – many of faith regularly question the direction of their own churches and work to keep them on track or steer them in needed directions. But valid criticism needs to be informed criticism.

          • The charity bit is fine. But everything around congregating, singing songs, etc. is a form of entertainment.

            It’s one thing for me, as a charity, to have offices necessary for carrying on the business of the charity. It’s another thing for me to use the charity’s money to build myself a mansion to live in, as long as I have an office in the basement.

            Please don’t get sanctimonious about being misunderstood. I was forced to attend church for decades. I have a decent idea of how my church operated, and it is not unique.

            ‘Believers’ can also be accused of saying horribly insulting things that seem unremarkable to them. For instance, expressing the belief that there is no morality without a god (because fear of hell is all that’s stopping you from raping and killing your neighbour and eating their entrails).

            I don’t see any secular charities setting up secularist-only community centres for the furtherance of indoctrination and calling it charity.

          • Sorry your experience with religion was so negative. Not all churches operate the same way.

            You’re right that churches are unlike other charities. That doesn’t mean they aren’t charitable organizations.

            To address your question at the top of this thread:  most churchgoers I know give a fair bit to secular charities as well as to their churches. Many volunteer for purely charitable organizations, both under the auspices of their church and in the secular community. Their faith may be the inspiration, but their efforts are rarely confined to their faith. I’m speaking personally, as well as from personal observation.

          • Church is pure theatre…music, costumes, lighting, incense,  chanting,  drinking, eating, the soft shuffle of bills on the plate….

    • Can’t I continue to volunteer and do my part for society, without having to engage in superstitious nonsense? 

      • No. All of us believe in superstitious nonsense of one sort or another.  

        • No, actually we don’t. 

          •  Yes you do. For one thing, you believe in our monetary system, do you not? Yet though it is a collective belief, money has no intrinsic value beyond what we, via our faith in the economic system, ascribe to it. Whenever our faith falters, values plummet and we end up in periods of economic uncertainty.

            You can’t eat money, and you’d look silly wearing it. But an awful lot of people worship it unreservedly.

          • LOL no I don’t.  I haven’t the slightest faith in our monetary system, and in fact have said that capitalism died the same year communism did….1989 

          • OK then; your belief that you don’t believe in superstitious nonsense is superstitious nonsense. LOL!

            Basically, in order not to believe in superstitious nonsense, you would have to have no belief in anything. Theories cannot be absolutely proven – only disproven.

          • I don’t have a belief in anything….it’s not required, you know. 

        • Is that what makes the world a better place? 

      •  Hush now – you’re harshing his sanctimonious buzz.

  2. People who claim a religion are more likely to be hypocrites about religion than people who claim no religious belief. 

    • I’m willing to bet, though, that if you drop “about religion” from the equation, the level of hypocrisy, regardless of type, will be about equal between the religious and the non-religious. The religious don’t hold any special claim on hypocrisy. 

      • Since having a professed belief system prescribing proper behaviour is a prerequisite for actions contrary to the professed belief system (hypocrisy), and since religions typically have elaborate belief systems prescribing proper behaviour, and since there are only a few equivalent non-religious systems prescribing proper behaviour (which are less commonly held), the religious have much more opportunity for hyprocrisy. So I’ll take that bet.

        Though I propably wouldn’t go so far as to subscribe to a bit of advice my father passed on from one of his employers, the advice being “never trust a praying son of a b!tch”.

        • LOL! OK, on second thought I’ll have to admit you have a point; though I’ve known hypocrites of both a religious and non-religious bent, the worst by far were among the religious. 

          In my teens, I had a boss who was too Christian to work Sundays, and would not think of making any from his church work either. But those of us who attended other churches were regularly scheduled to stock the shelves on Sundays. In the end, when another of his businesses failed, he torched the place for the insurance & wound up in jail. He’s an extreme example, though; hardly typical.

          We’re all, every one of us, hypocrites at times and to varying degrees. No one group has a monopoly.

          • Think again. 

          • Look everyone – Emily is claiming a monopoly on hypocrisy! 

          • I think you’ve had too much sacramental wine.

            Say your prayers and go to bed. 

  3. But what does this mean for Conservative majority government policy? I didn’t realize there were so many out there looking for some red meat on abortion, capital punishment, gun control (bad), immigration (bad), military expansion, throw away the key punishment etc..

    • The SoCons….who rightfully belong in the CHP but can’t get elected that way…are a large crowd. That’s why everyone was so concerned about a ‘hidden agenda’.

    •  There is as wide a spectrum among the religious as the non-religious. You seem to assume a hive mentality. If that were true, there wouldn’t be so many different sects within each major religion.

      • And all of them crazy…religiously insane…a hive mentality. 

        • See, I could just as easily argue that the non-religious who have preconcieved notions of the religious suffer from a hive mentality – and that their unbending opinions is indicative of mental issues. 

          As a Christian, I question the precepts of my denomination and my faith regularly. I am aware that that, given the number of alternative faiths, as well as the non-religious, that there’s a good chance some if not all of my beliefs are wrong. (Clearly I’m not fundamentalist.) Based on some of the comments on this thread, I would argue that I am more open-minded than a good many of the non-religious.

          Believing there is no God is still a belief. There is no way to empirically prove God does not exist. When you insist your belief is correct and everyone else’s is wrong, that is a dogma no different than any other fundamentalist belief. Athiests, in my experience, are at least as bigoted and close-minded as those of faith.

          • You could argue black is white, but it wouldn’t change reality one iota. 

            Atheists have no belief in a deity…period.

            Past that, there is no commonality.

            NOT having a belief is NOT a belief.

            Do you believe in Zeus?  Odin? Apollo?  No…nor do you think about them. That’s not a belief, it’s a matter of indifference to you.

            You can’t prove pink unicorns don’t exist. Does that mean they do?

          • Now you’re down on pink elephants? What’s next – are you gonna deny the Great Pumpkin? LOL!

            Your argument does prove my point, though, as to the close-mindedness of many athiests. No willingness to concede that they may be wrong (yet they insist that others concede they are right).

            Not having a belief in God or gods is a commonality. Your reasons may differ – but that’s true for believers as well: Their reasons for believing, and the nature of their beliefs, vary from group to group; within groups; and between individuals.

          • I said pink unicorns….you read it as pink elephants

            Like I said, you’ve had too much sacramental wine 

            No, I did not ‘prove your point’. You don’t have one….you just have the same old fairy tales you always did.

          • You’re right; it should read unicorns. I was thinking about how drunks supposedly see pink elephants and, wondering how much you’d had, I made a Freudian slip.

            You’re right about one thing though; time for bed. It’s been an entertaining chat – even if it has an overwhelming sense of deja-vu to it!

            ‘Night Emily.

  4. Anyone have a good source for the size of these two groups?  I want to say that regular church-goers represented about 20% of the population, whereas people who rarely/never attend church represent about 40% (with the other 40% being in between regularly and never), but while I’ve found that number, I haven’t found it from a great source as of yet.

    • I don’t see percentages of Canadians as church goers but 75% of us have religious identity, whatever that means. 

      “Even though the Conservatives scored reasonably well among the roughly three out of four Canadians who say they have a “religious identity” (42 per cent), the party was weak among those who have no religion. “

      • Most of them are ‘nominal’. That is they say whatever they were told they were as kids, but never darken a church door. 

  5. And what about the missing percentages…even less often?  Not at all?  Just in between the two highlighted frequency bands?

  6. There are some interesting stats in there. Didn’t click through earlier but I was surprised to learn that  Cons did better with foreign born Canadians than those born in Canada and it is the progressives who are rather parochial. 

    “In general, the Conservatives did slightly better among those born outside Canada (42 per cent) than those born in Canada (37 per cent). The NDP was the only one of the three major parties to score higher than their popular vote among those born in Canada, winning 36 per cent of their ballots”

    •  “…it is the progressives who are rather parochial.”

      You’re confusing the success of an election/marketing campaign for the beliefs of the people who executed those campaigns.

      It’s like saying that Ford outperforms among new Canadians, therefore GM employees are more parochial.

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