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A new national study shows that Canadians are turning away from organized religion in big numbers . The country is overwhelmingly christian though.

According to results from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) ,more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.

At 12.7 million, Roman Catholics were the largest single Christian group, representing 38 percent of Canadians; the second largest was the United Church, representing about 6 percent; while Anglicans were third, representing about 5 percent of the population.

Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991.

Juanita Austin

Rev. Juanita Austin of the First United Church in Salmon Arm, B.C. Her church is trying to attract those who are turning away from organized religion in favour of a more vague “spirituality.”/National Post

Muslims now represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s population, nudging up from the 2 percent recorded in 2001. Immigration has largely fueled the increase, with the largest share of Muslims coming from Pakistan over the past five years, according to Statistics Canada.

Meanwhile in England, the number of people attending Sunday services at Britain’s Anglican churches is continuing to drop, but church officials say there are signs that the decline is starting to stabilize.

A spokesperson for the Church of England said last Tuesday that average weekly attendance at the nation’s 16,247 Anglican parishes was 1.1 million in 2011, representing a drop of just 0.3 percent from the previous year’s figures.

The annual statistics reveal a substantial increase in attendance at the country’s storied cathedrals: Christmas churchgoing rose by 14 percent, christenings were up 4.3 percent and adult baptisms were up 5 percent. The number of weddings was down 3.6 percent, to 51,880.

By UP