Skip to main content

Increase in Religion-targeted Crimes in Canada Spurs Think-tank to ‘Face Down Religious Hate’

In 2021, hate crimes targeting religious communities reached their highest point since 2009, with almost 900 such crimes reported by police.

A brief released March 16 by Ottawa-based Christian think tank Cardus presents a serious increase in police-reported incidents of hate crimes targeting religious communities in Canada. An increase that “is occurring against a backdrop of increasingly negative public attitudes toward the contributions of religion and faith communities to Canada,” the brief says. 

Having collaborated with the Angus Reid Institute over the past five years to study Canadians’ religious practices and their views toward other faiths and atheism, Cardus found “that while the proportion of Canadians who say that the overall contribution of religion and faith communities is a mix of good and bad has remained steady since 2017 at just under 50%, those who say that the bad outweighs the good has increased from 14% to 22%.”

“Negative attitudes about the contributions of people of faith and religion are more concentrated among Canadians who are themselves non-religious,” the brief says. “Among respondents who are non-religious, almost half (46%) believe that faith communities’ contributions to Canada and Canadian society are mostly negative. In contrast, Canadians who identify with a religion are overall more likely to see the presence of all religions in public life, not just their own religion, as benefiting the country as a whole.” 

The views of Canadians presented in the survey are categorized along a “Spectrum of Spirituality,” developed by Cardus and Angus-Reid, to better capture Canadians’ religious identities and their spiritual lives more than traditional labels such as “Protestant” alone. “Non-religious” is one of four categories determined by respondents’ answers to eight questions probing their belief and practice.

Rev. Andrew Bennett, faith communities program director at Cardus, and Johanna Lewis, a public policy researcher, co-authored the brief, which takes a hopeful view amidst the reported negative perceptions. “As fellow Canadians, we can and will disagree in important ways. Yet when we cultivate mutual understanding, we will work together as neighbors to strengthen our common life and flourish together,” they say in concluding the brief.

They encourage “public, business, and civil-society leaders” to deliberately cultivate and model “understanding and appreciation of different ways of life in a pluralist, diverse society such as Canada.” Giving examples of policies to confront religious discrimination in the workplace and a tone of religious inclusion to be set by public figures, the co-authors urge “leaders and policymakers to strive to ensure that the gift of Canada’s religious diversity is preserved for generations to come.”


We Are Counting on You

The Banner is more than a magazine; it’s a ministry that impacts lives and connects us all. Your gift helps provide this important denominational gathering space for every person and family in the CRC.

Give Now