Survey on faith yields surprising results
By Nathan Rumohr
VANCOUVER (CCN) — A recent study has reported that Catholic school graduates view the role of faith in the public square similarly to graduates of public schools.
The study compares graduates now ages 24 to 39 from government-run public
schools with grads in the same age group from various kinds of schools:
Protestant private schools, non-religious private schools, religious
home schools, Catholic separate schools (government-funded), and Catholic
independent schools (private with some government subsidies). Catholic
schools in B.C. are independent.
Graduates were compared on a wide range of topics in addition to religion.
However, the study gives little information about what their actual responses
were; it just reports how other grads compared to grads from public schools.
In total, 1,868 graduates were surveyed, but only 23 Catholic respondents
were from B.C. In addition, the results were controlled for family socioeconomic
and religious background. The study revealed some interesting facts about
faith in the public square.
“What struck me the most was that Catholic schools were the same
as public schools in many respects,” said Ray Pennings, the study’s
project leader and the director of research at Cardus.
The study showed grads from both kinds of Catholic schools were less
involved in volunteering their time with their congregations than grads
from Protestant schools, religious home schools and public schools. But
they scored the same as public school grads on their views on the importance
of religion in public life.
“You would have expected to find some spiritual differences, but
they weren’t there (for Catholic grads),” Pennings said, “which
is distinct from the Protestant schools, where we were getting measurable
“I am surprised by the results,” said Doug
Lauson, superintendent of the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver
Archdiocese (CISVA). He said he would have expected religious training
provided by schools would have an effect on how students lived their
faith after graduation.
But Lauson noted that the sample size for Catholic-independent-school
grads was low. “Only 23 were sampled from the whole of B.C., and
I don’t know how many of those were from our diocese.”
However, he added, secularization in society is a factor not only for
Catholic schools but for Protestant ones as well. He said CISVA is looking
at ways to address this issue with students.
“Young people are in a bit of a difficult situation, because in
school they learn one set of values, and then they go to the shopping
mall and they’re surrounded by a different set of values,” he
“Our graduates should be aware of the world out there
and should be prepared to defend their faith in a world that is very
secular, and where the practice of your faith is allowed but frowned
With regard to employment, the study showed grads from both types of
Catholic schools were similar to public school grads. All three groups
obtained managerial occupations (managerial professionals, lawyers, scientists,
architects and university teachers) at the same rate.
With regard to how workplaces are run, the three groups held the same
views on ethics and efficiency. Catholic independent grads scored well
in post-secondary education. They came in second to non-religious independent
grads in total years of education, but were more likely than any other
grad in the study to have a university degree. They also scored the highest
in obtaining masters degrees.
The complete Cardus survey is at http://www.cardus.ca/research/education.