Canadians were once church-goers. During the post-war boom of the 1950s, Canadian churches were vibrant institutions, with attendance rates even higher than in the United States, but the following decade witnessed emptying pews. What happened? In Leaving Christianity Brian Clarke and Stuart Macdonald quantitatively map the nature and extent of Canadians’ disengagement with organized religion and assess the implications for Canadian society and its religious institutions. Drawing on a wide array of national and denominational statistics, they illustrate how the exodus that began with disaffected baby boomers and their parents has become so widespread that religiously unaffiliated Canadians are now the new majority. While the old mainstream Protestant churches have been the hardest hit, the Roman Catholic Church has also experienced a significant decline in numbers, especially in Quebec. Canada’s civil society has historically depended on church members for support, and a massive drift away from churches has profound implications for its future. Leaving Christianity documents the true extent of the decline, the timing of it, and the reasons for this major cultural shift.
"Leaving Christianity develops the first coherent historical analysis of the postwar secularization of Canadian society deploying statistical evidence in abundance. It also brings the state of the historiography on Canada in this period up to the levels of Europe and the US. It offers a detailed analysis of a great deal of statistical data with a keen understanding of the trends in demographic, eccliesiastical, and religious change." Callum Brown, University of Glasgow
“A major, original, and important contribution to scholarship and a groundbreaking and important contribution to our understanding of the evolution of Canadian identity.” David Seljak, University of Waterloo
"This book is a must-read for anyone interested in religion in Canada, and brings much to the table. First and foremost, the authors are part of only a very small handful of researchers analyzing the extensive quantitative data on church membership, Sunday School participation, rites of passage, and more collected and archived by Canadian churches. This data has been severely underutilized by those studying religious trends in the country, and nowhere will you find a more comprehensive analysis of this data spanning eight decades and over a dozen denominations and groups than in Leaving Christianity." Reading Religion