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

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

Just Posted

The Port McNeill Fire Hall. (Port McNeill Fire Rescue photo)
Port McNeill Fire Rescue gets big financial boost from government

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom was thrilled by the funding announcement

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

The Comox Valley campus of North Island College. (File photo)
North Island College launches first Indigenous Plan

The plan signifies NIC’s commitment to become more Indigenous serving

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Supply of skilled tradespeople can’t keep up to Vancouver Island construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Most Read