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

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

Just Posted

Rob and Jennifer King run Sasquatch Cyclery out of their garage. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
‘Hop on it now’: Parts crunch hits cycling

New bikes are hard to get and used bikes are selling at a premium this year

Michel-Natal-Sparwood Heritage Society runs a museum that was established to display the heritage of the "no-longer towns" of Michel and Natal, and the Elk Valley Area. Photo Submitted/Monica Beranek, Artifact Curator
Sparwood Museum requests a leg up to stay open full-time

The museum is volunteer-run, but needs a full-time employee to be able to snag much-needed grants

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

British Columbia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Wildfire fanned by winds near Merritt prompts evacuation alert

BC Wildfire Service says the suspected human-caused blaze was fanned by winds

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
National fitness group condemns unlicensed Kelowna gym’s anti-vaccine policy

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada says Flow Academy is shining a negative light on the industry

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Most Read