The Fascinating Religious Makeup of British Columbia

Earlier this month, the British Columbia Humanist Association commissioned a poll to find out about the religious makeup of their province and how much support there is for secular values. What they found was remarkable: Only one in three British Columbians are religious. What’s more, nearly 30% of the population was atheist or agnostic. (Sample size was 600 and the poll has a margin of error of 4%)

They’re going to be analyzing and releasing the results of their poll over the next several weeks, but they’ve created two infographics that display the biggest findings:

(via Canadian Atheist)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Rich Wilson

    As a very long time BC resident, I expected the “none”s to be high, but I didn’t expect the “don’t believe in a higher power” (atheist/agnostic) to be 30%

    • Rob Bos

      Ditto. I have to be skeptical of those numbers. Once you get east of Surrey, there’s churches on every block. The Lower Mainland does have the vast majority of the population, so I guess it’s possible.. I wouldn’t have put it over 20% though.

  • Michael

    Way to go BC.

    They’ve always be able to sit on their decks in all seasons sipping a beverage of their choice watching the sun slowly sink in the west knowing that the rest of Canada is in the dark. Know that applies in two ways.

    • Michael

      Sorry, I meant “Now that applies in two ways”.

    • Ibis3

      I wouldn’t expect the numbers to be much different across the country.

    • Wild Rumpus

      It’s not so much “a beverage of…choice” that makes BCers so mellow… It’s more like “smoking material of choice”.

    • GodlessPoutine

      Quebec has been mostly non-religious since the late 60s early 70s.

  • sunburned

    This reminds me of a movie quote:

    “Christ, if only we had their numbers.” –Cardinal Glick, Dogma (1999)

  • Rain

    The fastest growing group of people in the country has been measured as being those of who have no belief or who are atheists.

    I remember the first time I read something by Christopher Hitchens. It was an article about Mother Teresa. It was the first time I had ever seen anything even remotely critical of her. The dude knew how to write good for sure. I was immediately drawn into the black hole of his intelligence. It was an irresistible force, although it was obvious he had an agenda and he was quite the opposite of an unbiased critic.

    • allein

      I can hear this quote in my head; The Thinking Atheist uses it in his podcast opening.

      • Melody Hollis

        Followed by, “You don’t have to be apologetic or quiet about it…”

  • Tim

    I love Canada – America’s control group.

  • Wild Rumpus

    …and in British Columbia we have free access to abortion in the first trimester, guns are basically illegal, gay marriage has been legal for a decade…

    …and you know how the gods punish us? With a mild climate and a robust economy…

    SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T FEAR THE LORD YOUR GOD? You get a true liberal democracy is what you get.

    • Rich Wilson

      I knew lots of people in the interior who had riffles and shotguns for hunting. But the only handguns I knew of were a) illegal or b) kept locked at the shooting range.

    • Ibis3

      Free access to abortion period, regulated by the medical profession like any other medical procedure.

      p.s. you forgot a relatively progressive drug policy and universal health care

      • Ibis3

        But as long as we’re slapping BC (and, by extension, Canada) on the back, it’s fair to point out it’s not all roses, especially for aboriginal women.

    • baal

      I strongly suspect that it’s a causal relationship. Decent governance empowers the population and in that climate, the thoughts and actions that support religious following wither.

      • Rob Bos

        Said like someone who’s never seen BC politicsin action. :D

  • Ian Bushfield

    Thanks for the share Hemant! Let me know if you have any detailed questions.

    Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanists

    • Ewan

      Under ‘Who are the non-religious?’; 75% of Vancouver is non-religious, or 75% of the non-religious people in BC live in Vancouver?

      • Ian

        75% of City of Vancouver (not Metro Van, the burbs are slightly above average in religiosity) respondents are non-religious. Of course MOE on the regional data is larger, so we’ll have to wait for the census to see if the trend holds.

  • Ibis3

    I think Christy Clark’s statement here is too vague to conclude much about someone’s level of secularism. What does it mean to “involve faith communities in what the government does”? If this means having the Catholic Church running public hospitals and determining my medical treatment then I would strongly disagree. If it means, say, incorporating Native spiritual practices *on a voluntary basis* when determining sentences for troubled First Nations youth or reaching out via community policing to marginalised ethnic communities based around the temple or mosque, or allowing a representative from the Pagan community to lay a wreath at the official ceremony on Remembrance Day–that kind of thing I’m all right with.

    At school, “explore spirituality” might actually be great if it was done as a study of psychology and sociology. Topics could include: hypnosis, trance and altered states of consciousness; perception, delusion & hallucination, optical illusions and slight of hand; crowd psychology…

  • Banrion

    Yet another reason I’m happy to be born and raised in BC!

  • David S.

    I like the use of 19 times out of 20 instead of something like “at a 95% confidence interval”. I think the latter comes across as statistical magic to many people, and hopefully the first is clearer to the average person.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I’m surprised to see there’s so many people on this site from BC. We rock.

  • John Pearson Holder

    I am very very impressed there is not a bunch of bible thumpers screaming out in the comments I am also very impressed nobody is insulting religion OR insulting non-believers. BC is a wonderful place to live!