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May 19, 2016
Sacha Sewhdat

Religious? Evangelical? Fundamentalist? You are probably amongst the most civically generous portion of the population according to the research of Dr. Paul Reed.

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Sacha@CONTEXT: A secular humanist might say that a religious imperative is not necessary for generosity or civic responsibility.  It seems that your research disagrees with that.

Dr. Paul Reed: Yes. People who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation and no religious participation have, far and away, the lowest rate of measured formal or institutional contributing to the greater good, or the common good as through giving, volunteering and, civic activity.

I would certainly agree that, in a logical sense, there is no imperative to be religious in order to be civically active but the fact remains, religious people are with very, very wide margins, active in contributing to the welfare of their society and individuals in their society.

Sacha@CONTEXT: With interest in organized religion down across Canada, what does that mean for civic engagement in the future?

Dr. Paul Reed: We know that the proportion of the population that describes itself as being religious is shrinking. It’s probably around 25% at the moment; it may be a bit lower than that.

Religion ignites our interest in the collective good in a way that to no other social force does.  Secondly, religion is the context in which people learn about the collective good.  If religious settings and participation in religious activities is declining, I think that is, with very high probability, going to result in a softening or weakening in the concern for the collective good.  Unless, of course, it is replaced by some ofter activity, force, or social factor.]

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