This is the fourth in Reginald Bibby’s classic examinations of religion in Canada, following the best-selling and influential Fragmented Gods (1987), Unknown Gods (1993), and Restless Gods (2002).In this important update, Bibby pulls together his extensive trend data in describing the major religious shifts that have been taking place in Canada. He also draws heavily on newly available international survey data to look at Canada in global perspective.Bibby takes readers back to a time when religion was dominant, and shows how major cultural and demographic changes combined to bring about the participation crash of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. He maintains that the current religious situation is neither characterized by secularization nor revitalization but by polarization. A sizable and durable core of people continue to value religion while, simultaneously, a growing number are abandoning it.Polarization, he says, raises the important question of the extent to which the two extremes can co-exist. It also raises some critically important, “so what?” questions concerning the impact on life and death. Specifically, to the extent that Canadians reject religion versus embrace it, what are the implications for personal well-being, spirituality, social well-being, and how they respond to death?Bibby says the data point to two areas that may not be negatively affected – but maintains that there are two areas where Canadian life is going to take a serious hit. The global data point to similar findings worldwide.Drawing on key thinkers and the extensive data at hand, Bibby maintains that for most people, the abandonment of religion will be short-lived. “Some people will choose to go it alone,” he acknowledges. And without question, large numbers will say goodbye to any number of forms of organized religion. But, he says, the future looks bright in Canada for Roman Catholics, Conservative Protestants, and Muslims. What’s more, some new, important entries can be expected to appear. Conversely, the United and Anglican churches may soon be on life support.Still, in the midst of such shuffling, he concludes, “Few of us will say goodbye to the gods.”
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