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John Grady: Religion in the north

It is hard to dismiss two separate recent reports from the 2021 census
John Grady: "There is not much personal evangelism that takes place and the numbers certainly support the lack of evangelism."

For me, there is nothing more boring than statistics, and I have always doubted Stats Canada reporting as I have questioned the reliability of how the subscribers respond.

Unfortunately, it is hard to dismiss two separate recent reports from the 2021 Stats Canada census. 

The first was reported recently by Alaska Highway News showing in Fort St. John and the surrounding area that 58.4%, or 16,590 of the population, have no religious affiliation.

There were 10,435 who did identify themselves as being Christians, with 2900 who identified themselves as being Catholic, Anglican 575, Pentecostal/Charismatic 495, United Church 425, Baptist 335, Lutheran 280, Jehovah Witness 250, Anabapist 235, Latter Day Saints 130, Presbyterian 115, Christian Orthodox 75, and Reformed 15. 

Stats Canada documented that there were seven non-Christian religions representing a population of 1410.

As Christians, we can spin the numbers any way we would like, but if that is not a wake up call for Christians, who are supposed to care for the eternal lives of their neighbours, friends, and family members, then I don't know what else you would call it.

Out of the 10,435, there were 3865 Christians who did not identify a denomination and 680 claimed to follow a Christian ministry. 

One of the apparent reasons many do not identify denomination is the belief denomination is not a biblical term, and the other reason is some religions claim to be Christian but do not fulfill the biblical mandate.

The tag 'Evangelical Christians' was not used but that is declaring that Christians share their faith. Unfortunately, there is not much personal evangelism that takes place and the numbers certainly support the lack of evangelism.

For serious, committed Christians, the numbers are actually much lower than the 10,435 reported by Stats Canada. The true biblical reference reflects those that have repented, have placed their faith in the Savior and Lordship of Jesus Christ, thus being born of His spirit in their hearts.

As Jesus taught in the Gospel of John, we must be "born again," which is of His spirit. If that is the true test, then the number is not as high as the quoted 10,435.  What separates Christians as a biblical reference is we are the Body of Christ or the Bride of Christ.

The second report, noted by CBC from the 2021 Stats Canada census, was that 34.6% of people in Canada have no religious affiliation, however, in B.C. that number reaches 52.4%. 

As part of the invitation committee that reached out to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association requesting Billy to come to Vancouver to hold a crusade, I recall that one of the key reasons he agreed was a report that less than 2.7% of the population in the lower mainland and surrounding area did not attend any worship facility.

As true believers and followers of Jesus Christ we need to heed the words of our Lord in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

John Grady lives and writes in Fort St. John.

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