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More than a third of Canadians have no religious affiliation, according to new census data released by Statistics Canada, the nation’s statistical agency. The 34.6% of Canadian “Nones” more than doubles the 16.5% who fell into the same category in 2001, revealing a trend that has yet to plateau.

The agency says the change cannot simply be attributed to a rise in immigration since immigrants to Canada have been disproportionately religious; rather, they attribute at least some of the rise to people raising their kids without organized religion:

Part of the growth is due to the number of children under 10 who were born in Canada and have no religious affiliation. The number of children under 10 rose by 597,000 (+55.3%) from 2011 to 2021

Meanwhile, the percentage of self-described Christians (of all stripes) is still in freefall, dropping from 77.1% in 2001 to 53.3% in 2021.

It won’t be too long, I suspect, before the Nones overtake Christians across the country—and even sooner for Christians to become a religious minority. That’s already happened in Yukon and British Columbia, in the western part of the nation, where the percentage of non-religious citizens is 59.7% and 52.1%, respectively.

The BC Humanist Association was in a celebratory mood when they heard those results:

“This is a positive trend for BC and for Canada,” said Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BC Humanist Association. “We are seeing more and more people living their lives without religion, and this is a good thing for our society. Religion is not a necessary part of life, and more people are recognizing this.”

One other thing to keep in mind: The percentage of Canadian “Nones” may actually be an underestimate.

Numbers for the census were compiled by asking survey participants, “What is your religion?” It presumed people have a religious faith and it arguably made people more likely to name the faith they were born into even if they no longer seriously practice it. If the question was something like, “Do you practice any religion?”—followed up with, “If so, which faith?”—you could see how the results would be much more in favor of non-belief.

Whatever the case, organized religion is on the decline in Canada. It doesn’t solve every problem the country faces—we certainly know that in the U.S.—but at least religion is less likely to make existing problems worse.

(Portions of this article were published earlier)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.