Stats Canada data on religious affiliation is out with the 2021 census data and the numbers are confirming some trends regarding Christian affiliations. Here are the highlights as I see them, comparing some key denominations. This builds off of my my book Thrive. Ideas to lead the church in post-Christendom, that came out in 2017 and included data up to 2010.
Comparing years 2011 vs 2021.
Roman Catholics DOWN 15% or 2 million members.
Interesting because RC’s have long self-reported holding steady. Which means if people never comeback to the church they may still count them so long as they’re alive. It also dispels the myth that RCs held steady because new immigrants who were already Catholic joined.
United Church DOWN 800,000 members or a 40% decline!
If that trend continues UCC will be extinct in 15 years. I surmise a hardcore remnant will stick around. If you visit a congregation today you’d see most are/will be gone (dead) within a generation.
Anglican Church of Canada DOWN 500,000 members or -30%!
At that pace they’re gone in couple generations. Same as UCC, they’ll have a remnant sticking around, but most congregations are demographically gone in a generation.
Baptist affiliation DOWN 200,000 members or -30%!
This is interesting because the argument for fundamentalists/evangelicals was they were ‘resilient’ and holding steady. But Baptists at least are declining with mainline and will disappear within 50 years.
Another interesting denomination to include are pentecostals because you can deduce some evangelical trends from them.
Pentecost & Charismatic affiliation -15%!
Evangelicals are supposed to be the ‘resilient’ bunch, but the straight up numbers don’t lie. I guess they’re declining at a slower pace?
“Other” Christian traditions / affiliation is DOWN a whopping 75%!!! But the Christian ‘no affiliation’ category is UP almost 87% or 1.3 million affiliations. I think there’s a wash happening here but a sociologist would have to unpack the Stats Can numbers.
Evangelicals will probably claim they’re in the non-denom ‘n.o.s’ category, and are doing fine. Some I know are saying that over the past 2 years, despite the pandemic, numbers are steady. Wild to me.
Finally, no religious affiliation, or the proverbial ‘nones’.
The nones category from 2011–>2021 | UP 60% or about 4.7 million check boxes.
That’s about 1/3 of the Canadian population now stating they claim no religious affiliation. It is right on track with expectations.
All to say, we know religious affiliation is changing because the religious landscape has. Evangelicals have long thought their contemporary approach was keeping things afloat, and they may be dwindling at a slower pace, but all in all, Christianity in Canada is dying. Or at least the old school version where the church sat in the lap of privilege and operated with some authority in the day to day lives of Canadians. I don’t think there’s a way to save anybody here. I do think those that are dying can in the least birth new ideas and communities so something new can grow in the ashes.