The 2011 National Household Survey found under half of Abbotsford residents identified as Christian.

Is Abbotsford still B.C.’s Bible Belt?

Statistics suggest less than half of city’s residents call themselves Christians

If you can bet on one thing when outsiders talk about the Fraser Valley, it’s that Abbotsford will be called B.C.’s Bible Belt.

But statistics suggest times are changing.

Between 2001 and 2011, Statistics Canada figures suggest that as Abbotsford grew rapidly, the city’s Christian population actually decreased by thousands.

The 2001 census reported that around 86,000 of the Abbotsford-Mission area’s 144,900 residents were Christians of one denomination or another.

But by the time the 2011 national household survey rolled around, only 80,525 Christians were believed to live in the area. Over that decade, more than 20,000 people moved to the Abbotsford-Mission statistical area, pushing its population above 160,000. Figures for just Abbotsford, excluding Mission, are similar.

A Statistics Canada spokesperson said that mirrors trends seen across all of Canada in those years, with the number of Christians decreasing as the country saw a general rise in the number of people declaring themselves to have no religion, or to be part of certain other religious groups.

Abbotsford retains a large faith community, and thousands pack churches every Sunday. But at the same time, Abbotsford’s demographics have been changing. And the 2011 National Household Survey suggested that less than half the people in Abbotsford consider themselves Christian.

Still, the 2011 survey doesn’t quite settle the matter. First, there are more Christians than any other faith group in Abbotsford. Of 130,950 estimated Abbotsford (not Abbotsford-Mission) residents in 2011, 65,055 – 49.7 per cent – were believed to be Christian. That’s easily the biggest single faith group in the city. The survey said Abbotsford had about 26,000 Sikhs and 35,000 of no religious affiliation.

But that survey also had significant problems. The Conservative government had made the long-form survey that asked about religion voluntary. Statisticians warned that the voluntary nature of the survey could skew the results. And, indeed, its religion counts suggest that was probably the case. (Either that or thousands of Christians up and left Abbotsford, abandoned the religion or died.)

Ten years prior to the 2011 survey, the 2001 census counted 5,000 more Christians in the Central Fraser Valley. In a decade of dramatic growth, it would be surprising to see any single religion group would decline in size.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police search for suspect in early-morning assault downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

Kelowna glider pilot crashes in the Columbia Valley

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the circumstances of the crash

$10,000 to support LGBTQIA2S+ youth in the Okanagan

The endowment has been provided by the First West Foundation

Police keep eye on motorbike gang in Kelowna for poker run

The Throttle Lockers Motorcycle Club Poker Run was to have taken place on July 11

COVID-19 exposure on Kelowna flight

Interior Health has capacity to test individuals who need it, but is reminding everyone that testing is not required for those who do not have symptoms

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer displays COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Horoscopes for the week of July 13

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

Prohibited driver ticketed after rollover on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Jeep Cherokee hit rock face before rolling multiple times

Most Read