How Quebec went from one of the most religious societies to one of the least

Sure, the 60s provided a lot of upheaval and change. But a lot of that same upheaval happened in the United States too, and we are far less secularized currently than Quebec. So I think we’d have to go deeper than that – maybe look at how faith was treated and viewed and passed on before the 60s happened. (BTW, we try to avoid discussions of abortion and LGBT issues here on the forum, especially in conjunction with politics – not because they aren’t important, but because they tend to lead to strong opinions, and the intersection of science and faith is enough of a hot-button issue for right now.)

What is this, the Handmaid’s Tale?


I lived in Quebec for 6 weeks in 1985, when my parents were going to a crash course French language stint in the Universite Laval. It was certainly an interesting culture–I wasn’t equipped to understand it much when I was 14, but some things do stick out. Most folks were very kind. The land was beautiful. There were huge black flies in the woods, and acres of acid rain-stripped forests (that has improved now, I think). I made the mistake of asking for a license to sin (pecher with an accent grave) rather than fish (pecher with a circonflex) and got a wry smile out of the grocery market cashier!

Culturally, it would still shock us in the 21st century US with the emphasis of sex. It was more like modern France. Sometimes, the prepubertal children were sexualized–I don’t think current American secular standards would find them appropriate. It was a different culture, certainly.

We attended a small, evangelical church. We were bored, not knowing personally any other children and not fluent in the language, so my brother and I purchased boards of balsa wood and made airplanes without drawings. A Quebecois professor stopped us and congratulated us on our creativity when taking the side walk to the beautiful neighborhood park. When we did meet folks, they brightened up at hearing we were from Michigan–perhaps because it was fairly close

They were very nationalistic. Many seemed to like Americans more than the English Canadians. One told me that their struggle for independence was like the American one.

The Canadian Quebecois accent was considered more of a “country” accent, as opposed to the French motherland one. Instead of “oui,” or “si,” they might say “ouaai,” which sounds like “why.” I learned that it corresponds to our “yeah,” rather than “yes.”

I enjoyed it. I’d like to go back with my family to visit sometime.


Thanks for sharing… that’s neat about the language – especially that it’s had time to develop into something distinct from France. Their nationalism sounds like pre-Civil-War America… when some saw their states more as their “country of origin.”

We have friends in Montreal who love the culture there. I’d love to visit sometime… it’s only about 4.5 hours from where I live, but I understand they require passport cards now in order to get into Canada (going through customs was pretty simple when I was a kid).

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Hi Laura,

If you can’t study the politics of religion, you can’t study religion. Religion is politics. Knowing nothing about Quebec, I am certain that Quebec’s total fertility rate has fallen drastically just as they have withdrawn from religion.
I was curious and went to Wiki to look:
[begin snip]
However, Quebec is still below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. This contrasts with its fertility rates before 1960, which were among the highest of any industrialized society. For example, between 1951 and 1961, the population grew nearly 30% with minimal immigration, a natural growth rate matched today only by some African countries.
[end snip]

Interesting, LGBTQ behavior was never bad, just non-reproductive. See Leviticus 18:19-24.
I can’t stop. I’m immersed in religious studies. Nice to meet you. I’ll go away.

In a sense, yes… by “politics” I was referring more to civil politics – partisanship, etc. You are welcome to continue discussing here if the intersection of Christian faith and science are of interest to you – we just (per our guidelines) tend to avoid certain topics on the public forum because they are hot-button issues that many people are already arguing about elsewhere.

I took a cursory look at the Quiet Revolution and from what I gathered, secular nationalism developed in Quebec in the 1960s. While the US has Christian nationalism, Quebec nationalism replaces French-Canadian regionalism and Catholicism as the thing that bonds Quebec society. It kind of reminds me of French republican nationalism.

I think you got it backwards. I’m not familiar with Quebec history, but I think we should consider how significant cultural changes like secularization happened because of modern developments like industrialization, urbanization, etc. There were people moving away from traditional, rural life to urban life where there was more individual freedom, especially with the economic growth and prosperity of the postwar years after 1945. The sexual revolution was a byproduct of these changes. I think it is fair to say that the 1920s, which experienced rapid changes due to the Great War, also had its own sexual revolution with all the young people who wanted to forget about the pandemic and the war.


My take on this is slightly different. I do blame the church for their obsession with sex, and how this put people off. My local (Catholic)church when I was growing up was particularly bad in this respect. I’m not even talking here about LGBT or some kind of deviations. When you keep hearing all the time you will go to hell because you didn’t wait for your wedding or that you can only make love if you want a baby, otherwise it’s wrong, ohh I won’t even mention how evil contraception is…People start to think you can’t lead normal life as a Christian. I have no idea about Quebec, but is it such a stretch to imagine that this kind of scenario played a role?
And on another important note, to me this smacks of hipocrisy, and if nothing else put you off religion, this will.
Whilst everybody concerns themselves with sins of flesh, they seem to be OK with pride, envy, hatred…I never came across Christian campaign against legalisation of gambling.


Oh, we have definitely had that in Texas. It was resolved by the state running the lottery, but no casinos. It’s OK if the state does it.

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… Or greed. Or gluttony. Or pride. Or not working on the Sabbath. Even though the Bible and Jesus spend a lot more time talking about some of those things (at least greed) rather than sexual sin. My theory is that people like to concentrate on the sins that they themselves have either successfully avoided (or maybe aren’t even tempted by) or short of that - can at least keep it hidden (easier for men since they aren’t the ones getting pregnant). And once you have a shot at ‘cleanly’ partitioning off some sin (at least in appearance) to some identifiable set of culprits, then it’s off to the races as the church will excitedly major pretty much on that. The liberal knee-jerk reaction of this generation has been to partition the same set of sexual sins off as untouchable: i.e. now nothing sexual is allowed to be seen as sin unless it is an oppressor group victimizing a vulnerable group. That’s the only sexual sin now culturally recognized where liberals can play the part of prudish Pharisee right alongside the best of their puritanical forebears that they so strive to despise. But we’ll see how long that fad lasts.

The world between those two extremes is a lonely wilderness indeed.


Very well put. Every generation has a chronological snobbery, it seems, and I have noticed it in myself

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I don’t know that the Church is obsessed with sex. Christians observe the Levitical prohibitions just the same way all Orthodox Jews and some non-orthodox Jews do. The forbidden sexual behaviors are all non-reproductive behaviors. The prohibitions are listed in the book of Leviticus 18:19-24. In the following verses 25-30, the reader is told why: so that you (your people) are not “spewed out of the land.” In other words, the biblical author knows that observing those prohibitions will raise your total fertility rate. Remember, God told Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The reason those behaviors are prohibited is because infant mortality was very high in antiquity and the Torah describes never ending war with much loss of life.

When I was in parochial school there was a joke going around: how does a rabbi have sex with his wife?
The answer was “through a hole in a sheet” meaning that as he engaged in reproductive sex, he at the same time expressed his denial of it. did that ever happen? It didn’t have to. I think you get it.

It’s important to reproduce carefully. The most careful way is the religious way. That’s why Quebec’s TFR dropped as her population abandoned religion.

Be sure you have children, if you can. There will be no one to look out for you in old age.

I agree with you about hypocritical Christians, no argument there.

Longing for the day when we can roll back rights, are we? Don’t tell yourself that morals in the good old days were better. You could just get away with more. White planters regularly raped their slaves, and so forth.

I think that as a father of a beautiful, 7 year old girl, I am more conservative than I used to be before. I plan on being very careful about advising my precious daughter about which kinds of guys she dates. We know the ones that are interested only in selfish things, and I hope to encourage her, as the apple of my eye, towards the godly ones. This is a positive thing. The ones that care about her as a person, and want to stake their lives on treating her as more than themselves–as my dad did my mom–those are few and far between, but worth it. It is an outgrowth of character. My father was also a defender of the poor and needy, and it showed in his character elsewhere. He strongly condemned abuse in any form–whether to females or minorities, including sexual minorities.


I don’t know about being careful. We’ve been around as a species for 2,000,000 years or more, making lots of babies, and that’s why we’re still around.

I think you are smart. Liberals are opposed to non-consensual sex as far as I can see, no matter what.

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I’m longing for a just society that has yet to exist - and never will fully - short of the fully realized Kingdom of God. Perhaps I’m just not quite so naïve as to think that today’s purveyors of current sensibilities are really that much more righteous than those they point fingers at. But that said, the slavers of old were indeed despotically wicked people. The favorable comparison of today with yester-year isn’t because we now clear some high bar today. It’s a sign, rather, of how low the bar has been over the last centuries.


Infant mortality is now extremely low, in 1st world countries at least, and the “never ending war with much loss of life”…has ended! Therefore those verses of the Bible that you mentioned are completely irrelevant in modern world. In fact, some argue that it would be far more beneficial for everyone to slow or reverse population growth for environmental reasons, but also to ensure higher quality of life. And no, this doesn’t just come from the secular circles.


Sometimes reading about different experiences in here is crazy to me. I have noticed many churches, and people who seemed obsessed with sex and comes up with these weird social expectations of men and woman. It’s even weirder seeing it as an adult.

These weird “fears” and expectations seem to create big insecurities. My fiancée is in China for example and she occasionally posts pictures of herself at the movies ( obviously pre-covid) with other men. Or she will post about how she and some guy had a great night and went out to eat, went to the movies, and so on. Guys use to tag me and be like isn’t this your woman? I would be like yeah… and they would be like did you see this, and I would explain yeah and I liked it and I’m glad she had a fun evening with her friend. They start talking as if I’m somehow playing with fire and it’s ridiculous. Likewise I often go hiking or camping and sometimes it’s with a woman. People will comment , I thought your gf was Asian or did y’all break up and ect… when no. I spent time with a friend. It’s not just the religious world either. There are a lot of very insecure people , including liberal atheists, who have these very controlling toxic relationships. If you see two people out in public around the same age having fun people almost always initially thinks they are dating.

I have a friend named Beau from childhood. He was the first persons house I ever stayed the night at. I was 15. Never liked staying the night at other peoples houses. Even now I rarely do. But once a year me and Beau, who is very clearly gay, goes to a small ocean side town Oregon. Except for the last two years for various reasons. We go to the same sandwich shop and book store and it’s still owned and operated by the same people. The people who own it a few years ago told us how crazy it is that we have been together for so long. Lol. They thought we was a couple. It was weird but we explained no we are just friends.

Or how I have a friend named Leo. She and I have been friends for about 7 years. She now lives about 5 hours away. Sometimes she comes over and spends the weekend. We will lay in bed together and watch horror movies. We have never kissed or wanted too. Just strictly friends. Had a man once who found out she was staying over sometimes tell me that we are giving the image of sin. So I told him, don’t worry, we will put on rings to trick everyone into thinking we are married and solve the problem. He mentioned we should flee from temptation. I explained well someone should have warned Jesus about having out with sex workers then.

People are often confused how can I support opposite sex friends of people in relationships to hang out alone together. I explain because it’s not evil. If it’s a temptation for you then avoid it. If not, then maybe stop pretending it’s evil. Scripture says don’t lust after a woman, and don’t have sex before marriage, and don’t have sex outside of marriage. It never says a man and a woman can’t be good friends.

It’s bizarre that some people believe that opposite sex friendship can’t exist and that it’s just a pathway to sex or relationships. It’s almost like instead of someone learning to control themselves, they try to remove the temptation by demanding others to wear more clothes and don’t spend time with them. I live near the beach. There are very pretty women walking around all day wearing little clothing. We can’t control who are attracted too. But we can control what we think about and what we do. If a pretty girl walks out in front of me, I’ll almost instantly realize I find they are attractive. It’s normal. It’s not evil. What gets sinful is if I allow myself to look at them and undress them with my eyes. We all see men and women in stores who are noticeable staring someone down. We even creepily probably see people trying to take pictures.

In the gym I often see very fit woman working out. I’ll notice often that when a woman is working out, like doing squats, several men will be staring. Sometimes to the point a woman will just leave. Though I think unfortunately many of them are use to it and just ignore it. When I’m in the gym with someone from church, if they seem to be gawking I’ll point out that it’s ok to recognize attraction. Being attracted to someone is not evil. But you control your eyes. Don’t look at them as if they are meat. Dont stare at their bodies. Don’t allow yourself to fantasize about them. It is a choice. You can actively stop your thoughts. You can train yourself in righteousness. Feeling sad, angry, turned on, or scared are all normal biological processes. It’s all part of being a human. Of being a animal even. But what sets us apart, is that we can choose to not sin in those emotions. We can choose to control our thoughts and actions.

But it seems like instead the church, snd society in whole wants to instead control others. Instead of not looking at a woman in a bikini at the beach playing volleyball, and instead of not fantasizing about them , people will blame them and say well they need to hop around less and wear shorts and a shirt. This is not saying peolle need to be mindful of what they do snd wear, but that what a other person is doing or wearing does not force us to look at them or fantasize abkut them.

But until people can develop self disciple and pursue righteousness, snd learn how to have friends of the opposite sex, and stop treating everything as if it’s flirting with sin I don’t think the church, or society will move past it and this overly conservative approach of just avoid them and so on is why there is this giant leap on the other side to pursue more snd more lewd practices.


There is no guarantee that children will take care of you or even outlive you. That’s why we have social security and other social services.

I don’t think we need to rely on your interpretation of Leviticus so much. Having sex with a wife past menopause is non-reproductive behavior.

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