Religious preferences of Canadians - Statistics & Facts

While Canada has no state religion, it has been a predominantly Christian country over the course of its history since the arrival of Europeans. Today, though Christianity remains the religion with the greatest number of followers in Canada, its supremacy has diminished. Other religions, partially fueled by a growing number of immigrants, have grown in followers, as has the population of the irreligious. In fact, those claiming no religious affiliation (who totaled almost 8 million people in 2011, nearly a quarter of Canada’s total population) are the second largest group in Canada in regards to religion. Their numbers have grown by 80 percent between 2001 and 2011. The number of Catholics, the largest group of Christian Canadians, has remained virtually unchanged with nearly 13 million adherents according to census data from 2001 and 2011. The number of Muslims has nearly doubled over the same time period, standing at over 1 million followers in 2011.

Nearly all Christians and the irreligious in Canada are natural born citizens. About half of Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are natural born Canadians, while roughly 70 percent of Muslims are immigrants to Canada.

At the same time, the religious make-up of immigrant populations has been shifting. The group with the greatest increase in number of immigrants has been Muslims. During the period of 1981 to 2011 the number of Muslim immigrants coming to Canada each decade has increased by 470 percent, over two times more than the next largest group, Hindus, whose numbers have increased by 209 percent.

People under the age of 15 make up the largest group of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, the irreligious, and those practicing aboriginal spirituality. Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity tend to have older populations comparatively.

The Yukon has the highest percentage of residents without any religious affiliation at 50 percent. Ontario has the highest total number of irreligious residents at 2,927,795. In contrast, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest percentage of Christian residents at 93%. Ontario, again, has the highest total population of Christians at 8,167,295. Ontario also has the greatest percentage and total number of Muslims at 4.6 percent and 581,950 residents.

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Religious preferences of Canadians

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