Vol 6 No. 34 Considering the Census

Dear Folks,

Bill Mains, ghost wrote (he does this very well) a response to Stats Canada in 2007 when they asked us whether we found the census helpful.  He has re-sent it to me and I want to make it the topic of today’s newsletter.  It is an excellent piece and eloquently researched and I commend Bill and his work to you.  I would also like to draw your attention to a more pointed and politically explicit commentary written by evangelical writer and broadcaster Lorna Dueck in the normally, explicitly anti-religious Globe and Mail (calm down those of you who like the Globe, I subscribed to it for intellectual balance and spiritual dialysis.  I also read the National Post and Vancouver Sun, but, I know this is the longest bracket you’ve ever read….the Globe’s treatment of religion is intellectually dishonest and demographically disgraceful.)  Here is Lorna Dueck,

“There’s a book in the Bible called Numbers that begins with God ordering a census of people wandering in a wilderness.  Why the Almighty wanted the mathematical count seems to come down to the issue of nation-building.  Numbers were going to be needed for Moses and his leaders to understand all that would be required to create community and the structures that would nurture and sustain it.  Canadian church leaders have sunk their teeth into that truth and protested the Conservatives’ plan to end the mandatory long-form census.

 Protecting a harmonious society, care for the poor and vulnerable and safeguarding religious liberty are at the heart of their complaints.  Like Moses’ nemesis the Pharaoh, the federal government has turned a deaf ear….

 Catholics and Evangelicals reminded the government that strengthening the nation’s identity comes from good information that helps build and protect a harmonious society.  They argue that religion and ethnicity are such sensitive issues that they won’t show up on voluntary submissions. “It’s a sad day for Canada, and it is one that could dramatically affect religious liberties,” blogged Rick Hiemstra, director of the Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism.”     Globe and Mail, Published Monday, August 16, 2010

 And from Bill Mains:





November 27, 2007

Marie Anderson

Census Marketing

Statistics Canada

9th Floor, R.H. Coates Building

100 Tunney’s Pasture Driveway

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0T6

Dear Marie Anderson:

Re: Input on 2011 Canada Census from Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC)

We appreciate the opportunity to provide input to Statistics Canada on the on the 2011 Census Process.  The statistics and information provided through the responses to the census questions have been very helpful to Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC) in our planning, program implementation and new initiative development as we seek to provide ministry and services to members of our faith community and to the general population of Western Canada.

CBWC represent over 175 churches and agencies located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  We are an autonomous Canadian Baptist denomination which has over 20,000 Canadians attending our churches and ministries.  We are affiliated with three sister organizations –  the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec and the Union of French Baptist Churches in Canada – and, together, these four denominations have formed Canadian Baptist Ministries – our international missions, development and relief organization.

CBWC would particularly like to respond to Question 5 which is listed on page 13 of the 2011 Census Content Consultation Guide.   This question states: “The question on religion is asked every 10 years, the last time was in 2001.  Should the question be asked again in 2011? Why? / Why not?”

Our answer to this question is a definite “Yes”.  The question on religion should be asked in the 2011 Census.  We answer strongly in the affirmative for four main reasons:

1. Religion is an Integral and Important Aspect of Canadian Life.

Sociologist Dr. Reg Bibby of the University of Lethbridge, noted as Canada’s leading researcher on the importance of Faith in Canadian life, has written and spoken extensively on this topic, noting particularly that there is no other common, collective human activity that Canadians participate in on a regular basis  that surpasses the attendance at corporate religious services.  It would important, in our opinion, for society to have information specifically on the state of faith amongst Canadians as this is an important dimension of the majority of Canadians’ lives.  Faith affects the values and beliefs Canadians have about a variety of issues including views on the role of the human community in the nurture and support of people; the interest and commitment Canadians have to bring about human betterment in our society through acts of caring, compassion and social justice; and the commitment to the responsibilities of citizenship and  participation in the democratic process.  It would seem very appropriate for information on religion to be collected in the 2011 Census as the faith people hold continues to be an important demographic aspect of society in terms of the values and beliefs held by Canadians.

2. CBWC Need Census Information on Religion for Church/Ministry Growth Planning

One of the three Core Values held by CBWC is “To achieve Kingdom Growth.”  By this we mean to have the opportunity to advance our faith through the establishment of new churches and ministries in Western Canada; to strengthen our faith through the re-vitalization of existing churches/ministries and; in some circumstances, to amalgamate/downsize or discontinue churches/ministries.  The decisions made in these assessments and evaluations need to consider population demographics including the number of people in the relevant Census Area who have responded to the question on religion.  The number of Baptists and/or other declared Christians in a particular geographical region of Canada is an important piece of information as we do our “due diligence” in planning strategies and initiatives that affect our churches and ministries.  For this reason, we are requesting that the “Question on Religion” be continued to be asked in the 2011 Census.

3. CBWC Need Census Information on Religion for Decisions on Leadership Development

A second Core Value held by CBWC is “To Cultivate and Nurture Leaders”.  By this we mean putting leadership and resources into helping people (both young and mature) to grow in their faith and to become leaders who can make a positive contribution to strengthening our CBWC leadership capacity and also the overall leadership mosaic and fabric of Canada.  One way we do this is to operate a number of Camps and Conference Centers in every Western Canadian province.  These Camps and Conference Centers become a locus for teaching about leadership development, practicing leadership and service, and motivating those who attend to seek opportunities to lead not only in their churches and ministries but also to be good citizens contributing to their own communities.  For us to effectively plan for the placement and growth of our Camps and Conference Centers, we must have accurate, credible population information, including the numbers of people in each Census Area who are Baptists and/or other declared Christians.  This will help us address the felt and expressed needs of people of our religious persuasion and is very important to our strategic planning, financial and human resources deployments.

Leadership Development also occurs at the CBWC’s educational institutions.  CBWC operates Carey Theological College in Vancouver on the UBC campus which is a degree granting institution for those interested in professional training as a Pastor and/or Ministry Leader.  Carey Theological College and its Continuing Education Department – The William Carey Institute – have as mandates to see that educational opportunities for both professional and lay people are offered across all of Western Canada.  Although Carey is located on the far western edge of our geographical constituency, it has a long and successful history of offering programs in both the cities and rural areas of the West.  These programs have helped Pastors complete educational upgrading to the Masters’ and Doctoral levels in formal credentials and to help Pastors, Lay Leaders and Congregants complete Short Courses on specific topics helpful to Christian growth and church development.  In our desire to demonstrate equity of access to higher learning and educational opportunities and to address the logistical challenges of dealing with geographic distance and diversity, it is imperative that we have accurate information on where best to locate our various on-going and course-specific Carey Teaching Centers outside of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.  Like the comments on Leadership Development involving our Camps and Conference Centers, we need timely access to the accurate and specific Census Area data on “Religion” to guide our decision-making on geographical course placement as the majority of the participants in our dispersed educational programs are Baptists or Christians from other denominations.  Thus, we request that the information on “Religion” be continued to be gathered.  In so doing, we will serve to strengthen communities – both rural and urban – within Western Canada.

4. CBWC Need Census Information on Religion for Addressing Suffering and Poverty

The third Core Value of CBWC is to “Alleviate Suffering and Poverty”.  At the denominational and individual level, we have a long history of helping out the poor and disadvantaged.  Examples are our well-known ministries in several major cities such as the Mustard Seed; the efforts of many of our churches to address poverty and homeless with such programs as Food Banks and “Inn from the Cold”; our initiative to help  indentured  workers; our work with First Nations people in Winnipeg; and our focus on helping refugees and uprooted peoples.   We are very committed as Canadian Baptists in advancing human betterment in our Canadian society and using the resources we have in the most effective and efficient way.

In order to plan our human betterment initiatives and programs in Western Canada so that we can deploy our human and financial resources in the most effective way possible, we need accurate information on the location by Census Area of the people who declare themselves on the “Religion” question as Baptists or Christians from other denominations.  These are the people we have found who get actively involved in delivering the ministry in the geographical area and/or who support the local financial needs to keep the ministry going. The physical location of these people is an important factor in where we begin and sustain human betterment and social justice programs and projects.

In summary, CBWC respectfully requests that the question on “Religion” be retained on the 2011 Canada Censuses.  This information is very important to CBWC and its churches and ministries in trying to make our country an even better place to live and to serve our fellow Canadians.  Thank you for the opportunity to give this input in the Census Consultation Process.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Jeremy Bell

Executive Minister

Canadian Baptists of Western Canada




In Christ,