Jewish Canadians may take solace knowing that those who have a favourable view of Judaism has increased.
An Angus Reid poll on religious trends released April 4 shows that a bit more than half of Canadians – 53 per cent – have a positive view of Judaism, up from 47 percent in September 2013.
The poll found that Quebecers’ favourable view of Judaism has improved, from 36 per cent in 2013 to 45 per cent today.
In the rest of Canada, Judaism’s favourability rating has seesawed from 59 per cent in 2009, to 51 per cent in 2013, to 55 per cent today.
Nationally, Christianity and Buddhism were regarded most favourably, while “a number of other faiths are viewed with more skepticism,” the poll stated.
Once again, the religion viewed least favourably was Islam, at 33 per cent of respondents. But that number was up from 22 per cent in 2013.
The poll surveyed 1,515 Canadians in February and found that 68 per cent have positive views of Christianity (down from 71 per cent) and of Buddhism, at 58 per cent (up from the previous 56 per cent).
Those who see Sikhism in a positive light also went up to 38 per cent from 26 per cent.
The poll did not gauge anti-Semitic sentiment but rather overall acceptance of religious groups and symbols.
Canadians over 55 hold a more favourable view of Christianity and Judaism than those younger, while millennials are more likely to favour Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism than older cohorts, the survey found.
Broken down by political affiliation, Conservatives tended to favour Christianity (80 per cent) and Judaism (62 per cent) but only 24 per cent saw Islam in a positive light.
Among Liberals, support for Christianity was 71 per cent, 60 per cent for Judaism and 45 per cent for Islam.
Those supporting the NDP had the least favourable view of Judaism (52 per cent) and the highest for Islam (42 per cent).
Among the polls main findings are that:
- Only about one in three Canadians support a person wearing the niqab or burka, while strong majorities approve the Christian nun’s habit (88 per cent), the kippah (85 per cent), Sikh turban (77 per cent) or the hijab (75 per cent).
- The percentage of Quebecers with a favourable view of Islam has doubled since 2009, from 15 per cent to 32 per cent. Views of other religions have also increased in favourability over that time in Quebec.
- More than eight in 10 Canadians say it would be acceptable for their child to marry a Christian, but that number drops to below two-thirds for the five other major religions canvassed.
As for other symbols, 90 per cent of respondents support someone wearing a crucifix in public and 87 per cent approve the wearing of the Star of David. Only 33 per cent approve the kirpan, the ceremonial dagger carried by Sikh males.
The poll said Canadians’ “comfort” with interfaith marriage appears to be increasing. More than eight in 10 (85 per cent) would find it acceptable for their child to marry a Christian; and 62 per cent a Jew.
That’s up from 2013, when 47 per cent of those polled said they would find it acceptable for their child to marry a Jew.
The new study found that 20 per cent of Quebecers would find it unacceptable if their child married a Jew, down from 24 per cent in 2009.
Morton Weinfeld, a professor of sociology at McGill University, believes there’s nothing alarming for Jews in these numbers. “If anything, attitudes to Judaism in the rest of Canada and Quebec [are] possibly improving,” he told The CJN.
Polls surveying national attitudes are often unrelated to perceptions of the actual religious minorities, he noted, citing surveys in the United States, which have found that Americans viewed Jews favourably, even amid waves of anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Israel episodes on campuses stateside.
Steve McDonald, spokesperson for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said previous surveys have revealed that typically, 10 to 20 per cent of respondents report negative attitudes toward Jews.
The Angus Reid poll reaffirms these trends, McDonald said.
“Overall, Canadians have a positive view of Jews, who tend to be among the most favourably viewed religious minorities in Canada.”