Attendance at religious services has been in steady decline in Canada, where just 27 percent attended worship services at least once a month last year, compared with 43 percent in 1986, a new Pew survey found.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life examined Canada's religious landscape through census data and government surveys and determined that the drop in church attendance is driven in part by Canada's younger generation.
"For example, 43 percent of Canadians born between 1934 and 1943 reported that they attended religious services at least once a month in 2008. But only 31 percent of the subsequent cohort (born 1944-1953) said they attended religious services monthly or more in the same year. Younger cohorts (born 1954 and later) reported attending religious services even less frequently," the study released Thursday stated.
Those younger Canadians are also more inclined to be unaffiliated with any religion. The survey found 29 percent of those born between 1987-1995 identified as unaffiliated compared with 20 percent of those born between 1947-1966 and 12 percent of those born in 1946 or earlier.
In comparing Canada with the United States, Pew found 46 percent of those surveyed in the U.S. attended church at least once a month in 2012. Some 20 percent identified as unaffiliated in the U.S., compared with 24 percent in Canada.
Immigrants (43 percent) in Canada are more likely to attend a religious service once a month than native-born Canadians (22 percent) in 2011. By region, Quebec has experienced the steepest decline in church attendance from 48 percent in 1986 to 17 percent in 2011, a 31 percent drop. The Atlantic provinces experienced a 26 percent decline in the same period while other regions remained stable.
To offset the impact of the decline in Quebec, the Roman Catholic Church is coming up with some innovative ways to attract people to its landmark cathedrals and churches like Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montreal, according to MetroNews.
"Despite what Father Alain Mongeau describes as a strong and healthy membership, the Catholic church has opened its doors to more cultural activities and private enterprise in order to stay relevant and keep its stately, century-old building from crumbling. Top musical acts like Patti Smith, David Byrne, and Death Cab for Cutie have played in the church, which is known for excellent acoustics."
Another Catholic church in the town of La Motte, Quebec, has been turned into a community center and only occasionally hosts Mass, MetoNews reported.
Pew found the Roman Catholic Church remains the largest single religious group in Canada with 39 percent saying they are Catholic, followed by 27 percent Protestant, 24 percent unaffiliated and 11 percent saying they were other.