Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 15, 2007
Post-Boomers embrace spirituality
Young Canadians seek a structured faith, says sociology professor
By BILL GLEN
"New Age offerings do not have the credibility of long standing institutions like the Catholic Church and all its history."
- Reginald Bibby
It was assumed that Canadian trends would follow those of Western Europe, he said. Attendance of weekly worship services varied from around 10 per cent of the population in England to just three per cent in Denmark.
But Bibby maintains Canada should be compared to its neighbour to the south - the United States - where weekly attendance has remained at 45 per cent for some 60 years.
"The irony now is that we realize (secularization) does not nor ever did apply to the United States. Attendance in the U.S. has never gone down in proportion to the population. It raises the question of what's been going on in Canada."
The post-Boomers in the current era (those under 40) display signs of a high level of receptivity to being involved in religious groups - if they can find the groups that are meaningful to them, he said.
Bibby determined that in 2005, the receptivity level was even higher than it was five years earlier.
"If you break that down by age, the post-Boomers are saying there is not an antagonism towards organized religion. They are not acting as if religion is a thing of the past. Not at all.
"They are very pragmatic, saying they want greater involvement if they can find a significant ministry that touches their lives and the lives of their families.
"I'm not saying organized religion doesn't have its problems, but as far as participation, we don't have a free-fall situation. The bottom isn't falling out. There is new life and interest among young Canadians."
The hope for the future lies in the reaction of post-Boomers to secularization, Bibby says.
"Younger Catholics and younger Boomers in general, have hung in there with respect to religion. To the extent young people are open to the reality of God, they are also finding that they are experiencing (his presence)," Bibby said.
The interest in organized religion has been dramatically under-estimated. Bibby says Canadians continue to want rites of passage like getting married and having children. People continue to look for credible organizations where they can live out their spirituality and their faith.
They are not looking for the latest spiritual fad, Bibby says. They want structure.
And some 50 per cent of Roman Catholics in the Edmonton Archdiocese are under the age of 35.
"New Age offerings do not have the credibility of long standing institutions like the Catholic Church and all its history," he said. "The Church continues to be very important to people."
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