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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who Lies More about Attending Church Canadians or Americans?

And the answer IS: 

Canadians are second only to Americans in the unexpected research results found in a study done over a 30 year span by the University of Michigan. It included more than 400 different surveys and 750,000 people in 14 countries done by Philip Brenner a research fellow at the Institute for Social Research.  I say unexpected only from my point of view in that we are talking about people that regardless of where they live, say they follow the truthful Jesus Christ as their model.

Although my first reaction was "liar liar pants on fire",  to be fair the study reveals that the misrepresentation is not wholly intentional but due to the way the study or any study is framed, that is by the way the questions are asked.  This became evident when time-use diaries ask people to record everything they did on a given day versus being asked a direct question. 

When asked directly people are more likely to give what they see as a desirable answer but when simply recording their daily activities the results are a more accurate representation because nothing is singled out.  Thus people have no idea what answers the researchers are really interested in and their guards are down in connection to any sensitive areas they may have in religion, politics, buying habits or sexual orientation.

Stats in the U.S. reveals that 35 to 45 per cent of people said they attended religious services regularly, but time-use information says 25 per cent is more accurate.

In Canada, the percentage of people who said they worshipped regularly fell from 41 per cent in 1974 to 25 per cent by 2005 but actually over that time period it shows up as 22 to 10 per cent.
In Europe the biggest gaps between people's reported and actual religious attendance are found in predominantly Catholic countries.  But even in Ireland--where reported church attendance tumbled from 90 per cent in the 1970's and '80's to about 46 per cent in 2006--the gap was about four to eight percentage points.

Reginald Bibby, a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, says once people develop a "churched" identity, it tends to stick and they answer questions about their religious behaviour based not just on what they actually do but on what they try to do and think they ought to do.

Well... so what does that mean?  Does it mean that they can feel better about themselves because they meant well?  And does that mean that Canadians really aren't liars?  Or perhaps is it because "they are open to the possibility of greater involvement in religious groups," as he further went on to say?

Since when do 'good intentions' trump the truth?

I'm sorry but I just can see Jesus Christ saying to his disciples that he went to the synagogue 7 times when in fact he only went 5 times no matter how badly he wanted to attend those other two times.

   Beyond the Gods & Back, Bibby's book on the decline of religion in Canada, will be published in January.

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