Quebec: Resistant to Religion, Open to the Gospel?

Barry Whatley /Monday, September 21, 2020


Quebec is perhaps less in the news that it has been over the last number of years.  We have been shaken with COVID-19 and a significant impact on our elderly population; the sorry state of our care homes has been brought to light.  Some of the racial tensions in the city of Montreal have been also accentuated with the call to greater racial equality. 

But overall, at least on the surface, things are “swimming in oil” (an odd expression in French that doesn’t translate too well).  The economy is quite strong; we have low unemployment, a strong construction industry, a booming housing market. 

To Gain the World & Lose Our Soul?

But the haunting question Jesus left us hangs over Quebec, perhaps even more now light of the economic and political stability:  What does it profit us to gain the whole world, and lose our soul? (Matthew 16.26). 

Quebecers, the Québécois, have been very preoccupied with “gaining the world” since their radical break with Catholicism 50 years ago.  

Other corners of Canada have also seen a significant shift from “spiritual” and other-worldly values to “material” and this-worldly values.  But the shift has been radical and far-reaching in Quebec. 

Reginald Bibby has been studying the gains and losses of faith in the Canadian context for his long career.  His research is showing that there is some resurgence, a return to faith, seen particularly among the baby boomers – everywhere but in Quebec.  Other research has shown that Quebecers do largely identify with Catholicism but are the least likely of any Canadians to ever attend a religious gathering (Clark and Schellenburg).

Resistance to Religion & Hunger for God

The bottom line – Quebecers rival their BC counterparts in their disaffection with organized religion.  

For both these provinces, most respondents believe that religion and religious practice is largely negative for the overall good of society! 

But resistance to religion does not mean that the spiritual life or the hunger for God is absent in this context.  Unlike their French counterparts in France, atheism has gained little ground in the broader culture of Quebec. 

The challenge, which we will look at in our next post, is how to bridge that gap; how to present the gospel to the Québécois without unnecessary religious trappings that can hide the beauty and the winsomeness of the love of God revealed in Christ. 

Barry Whatley provides leadership and resources for French speaking Canadians and Africans in the areas of church health and revitilization, church planting and leadership development. Barry lives with his wife Laurie, in Hudson, Quebec.



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