Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 2004
Bibby holds hope for Church
Canadians not rejecting religion, he tells conference
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Young people are interested in God."
- Reginald Bibby
In 1871 Catholics had a hold over 45 per cent of the Canadian population. Today they represent 44 per cent of the population.
So where are the changes? "In no religion," Bibby said. "No religion jumped up from below one per cent in 1961 to 16 per cent now."
Most of those who say they have no religion are younger people and one in three come from Catholic homes.
"But as they get a little older they invariably want weddings, Baptisms, confirmations and funerals (and end up) reverting to the religious identification of their parents," Bibby continued.
"Within five years, one in three no religion people become something. Within 10 years, two in three become something. So if you don't get them on their wedding and you don't get them on their Baptism, you get them on their funeral."
Youth involvement is another sign of new life in the churches, Bibby said. "Among 15 to 19 year olds we have seen in recent years an increase in the proportion of teenagers who are actively involved in the churches," he said, noting that World Youth Day had shown "young people are interested in God."
This is mainly because churches are finally doing effective teen ministry, Bibby said. Evangelicals are "very good at it" with 65 per cent of their kids attending weekly services. "These kids actually enjoy it."
"Catholics are getting better at it," the sociologist said, noting that in 2000 Catholics showed an increase in participation of youth between 18 and 34.
Bibby has attended services at a Catholic parish in Lethbridge but said that parish has never contacted him. "Some people say that I must make (the effort) to contact them. I say, 'Wait a minute; it's not the sheep's job to find the shepherd.'"
Bibby implied Catholics should learn from the evangelicals, who hold on to their numbers by holding on to their children and youth, and from the Mormons, who keep good track of their members.
"A major source of loss as far as involvement is a simple thing like a residential move," he noted. "People move from one end of Edmonton to another. You have to have children's ministry and keep track of people as they move from place to place."
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