VANCOUVER -- Results from a new poll suggests that more than 80 per cent of B.C. residents support the province’s ban on in-person religious services, and the support is equally strong among the province’s Christian communities.

In November 2020, health officials in B.C. put a temporary ban on in-person worship, however some churches continued to gather and their leaders faced fines.

Now, an online survey by Research Co., from a representative sample of B.C. residents, has found that 81 per cent of people support the ban, six per cent are unsure, and only 13 per cent are against it.

“The level of support for the measure is definitely higher than I expected because people want to err on the side of caution,” said Mario Canseco, director of Research Co.

“(People are saying) ‘yes there might be somebody who might want to go to church on Sunday but if (for example) that is going to create 300 to 500 new cases in my community then that is not something I want to support,’” Canseco explained.

Four out of five residents who describe themselves as Christian believe the government made the right decision in putting a pause on in-person worship, according to the poll results.

“The level of support for the measures is actually very high … you have a lot of people who are Christian who are saying ‘The government made the right decision here and we should just worship in a different way that doesn’t entail getting together,’” Canseco said.

Some church groups have complained about the temporary ban and alleged it infringes on their religious freedoms. But Canseco, a cultural and political analyst, disagrees.

“It’s different from other (historical) situations that we’ve had before, it’s not an actual war against people being able to worship,” he said.

“We’re all trying to hold on to something that is going to make us feel better … but it’s not the best course of action to (meet in person),” Canseco said.

“Even if it helps mentally those people who are showing up (for worship) it’s not going to help us because we won’t be able to flatten the curve.”

The research results are based on an online survey of 800 adults living in B.C., conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 18, 2021. The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region, and has a margin of error +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.