When it comes to religion in Canada, most adults believe Catholics, evangelicals, and Muslims do more harm than good. All three religions had a net negative score when people were asked if their members helped or hurt Canadian society. Evangelical Christians received the lowest scores.
Those are some of the takeaways from a new survey conducted by the polling group Angus Reid.
In the chart above, members of the most popular religions—and people with “no religion”—were asked about each of the groups. (Looking at the far right “no religion” column, for example, we see that they think people who practice Catholicism (-47%) and evangelical Christianity (-46%) do more harm than good while the Nones think pretty highly of atheism (32%).)
It’s no surprise that each group thought their own side offered more benefit than harm. (The net positives are all represented by the blue squares.) But a few things still stand out:
- Muslims, Sikhs, and even mainstream Protestants believe most groups offer society a net benefit. Even when they dislike a group, it’s not by that much!
- Mainstream Protestants believe evangelicals do more harm than good (-10%). (Infighting!)
- Non-religious Canadians think the most dominant religions are bad for society but give positive marks to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews.
- No one likes evangelical Christians… except evangelical Christians. Every other group says they do more harm than good. (A similar pattern emerges with Islam, but even Jews give Muslims a net favorable ranking!)
- Overall, Hindus and Jews are beloved by all groups, getting blue boxes across the line. Sikhs come very close, dipping into red territory a couple of times, but only barely.
- While evangelical Christians (-43%) and Muslims (-9%) dislike atheists, pretty much every other group believes atheists are good for society.
Keep in mind that Canada as a whole is less religious than ever. A different survey released in November found that fewer than 70% of citizens were religious at all.
That means more Canadians are being exposed to more non-religious people overall. And when they see prominent evangelicals, especially during the pandemic, it was in the context of religious leaders making unscientific decisions that were bad for public health. Several pastors demanded their churches remain open and unmasked because they didn’t give a damn if others suffered due to their own COVID ignorance and negligence.
When a reporter for Global News asked one evangelical leader what he made of the negative reception of his tribe, his answer was… off the nose.
More broadly, [Rick Hiemstra, director of research at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada,] also believes that while once there was a “social benefit” of being considered religious, there is now a “social cost” to it.
“I watch Netflix just like everybody else. And really when you see the perceptions of evangelicals or Christians or religious people, generally… devout religious people are usually presented as deviants,” he says.
“This is really, I think, where people are getting a lot of their ideas about religious people generally and forming those opinions, not based on firsthand experience or knowledge, but based on what they’re presented with.”
People don’t think evangelicals are awful because of their portrayals in pop culture. It’s because we all see what they do with their power and what they’re against. They’re anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-choice, anti-sex, anti-science, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, pro-virus, pro-cruelty, pro-death penalty, and pro-bigotry.
Why would any decent person want to belong to a group like that? Netflix didn’t cause that. Evangelicals caused that, and pop culture reflects it.
I’m not even sure it’s a bad thing for them to be so disliked. They loved pretending to be persecuted, anyway, so a reminder of how much everyone despises their beliefs is bound to be treated as a badge of honor.