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Metro Vancouver tops list of non-religious big cities in North America

October 29, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

Canada’s 2021 census shows almost half of the residents of diverse Metro Vancouver now report having no religion — a much higher ratio than in virtually any big city in North America.

This week’s census news release on religion and ethnicity revealed that B.C. is the most secular province in Canada and that visible minorities have in the past five years become the majority in Metro.

The 47 per cent of Metro residents who say they have no religion is significantly higher than in equally ethnically diverse Greater Toronto, where just 26 per cent are secular.

Metro’s rate of non-religious residents is much greater than in big North American cities, including New York, where people-of-colour also comprise a majority — but only one-in-four of the population, according to Pew Research, have no religious affiliation.

The reality that Metro has the second highest proportion of immigrants of any Canadian city (42 per cent), after Greater Toronto, continues to have a significant impact on the eclectic religious and non-religious composition of the city.

In addition to some newcomers contributing to secularism, the city has experienced a declining number of Christians (863,000 or 33 per cent of residents); an expanding number of Muslims (110,000); Buddhists (71,000); and Hindus (67,000); and a stable number of Jews (20,000). Whereas Christians accounted for 77 per cent of all Canadians two decades ago, their proportion fell to just 53 per cent of the nation in 2021.

For centuries in countries where one religion has predominated, some have worried that accelerating religious diversity will lead to social fragmentation. But, B.C.-based observers generally trust that Canadians will bind together over common values that go beyond specific doctrines or world views.

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