Study reveals most British Columbians agree with the ban on in-person faith services

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According to a recent survey, majority of British Columbians agree with the province’s decision to ban in-person worship services, to stop the potential spread of COVID-19.

The study conducted by Research Co. has found 81 per cent of British Columbians agree with forbidding in-person services while 13 per cent disagree, and six per cent remain unsure.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banned in-person gatherings including those focused on faith in November 2020.

Special occasions such as baptisms, weddings and funerals can still be held at churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras with 10 people or less.

Support for banning worship services is higher in women with 84 per cent in favour, compared to 77 per cent of men.

When looking at age groups, 81 per cent of British Columbians between the ages of 18 and 34 agree with banning in-person services, as well as 75 per cent of those between the ages of 35 and 54, as well as 85 per cent for those 55 and up.

“Four-in-five British Columbians who describe themselves as Christian (81 per cent) believe the government made the right decision in banning in-person worship during the pandemic,” says president of Research Co. Mario Canseco. “Support for the regulation is also high among residents who are atheist (87 per cent), agnostic (75 per cent) or who profess no religion (79 per cent).”

Despite the regulation, some B.C. churches including The Kelowna Harvest Fellowship have been issued fines of $2,300 for holding in-person services.

Approximately 40 per cent of British Columbians believe the fines are about right, while 39 per cent believe they are too low. Twelve per cent say the fines are too high.

One-in-four people living in Northern B.C. believe the fines are too high. This proportion drops to 16 per cent in the Fraser Valley and Southern B.C., with 11 per cent in Metro Vancouver and six per cent on Vancouver Island.

British Columbians coming from European descent are more likely to believe the fines for holding in-person faith services is too low (43 per cent) than those who are East Asian (37 per cent), South Asian (30 per cent) or First Nations, Metis or Inuit (26 per cent).

The study was conducted from Jan. 16 to 18, 2021, among 800 British Columbian adults. The data is weighted according to age, gender and region. Research Co. says the margin of error is 19 times out of 20.

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