I’ve lived in Lethbridge for 22 years. One thing I have heard quite often is that Lethbridge is a Mormon town. Some people even claim that Mormons sit in high positions of power in this city, which is weird considering that—according to my knowledge—no Mormon has been mayor, and I believe only one has even sat on city council.
One would think that as a Mormon myself, I’d relish in the idea that Lethbridge is a Mormon town. However, this claim is rarely ever said in a celebratory way; it’s always accusatory.
I already knew that Mormons made up a minority of the population of the city—unlike some of the surrounding communities, Lethbridge was founded by coal miners, not by Mormon irrigation workers—so with the help of a friend, I decided to do some research recently and set this rumour to rest once and for all.
I found the religion data table for Lethbridge that is part of the 2011 National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada. This is the newest data available, since it’s conducted every 10 years, which means there should be an update next year.
Here are some interesting things I discovered in that survey.
When looking at religions as a whole (without breaking it down by their component sects and denominations), Christians make up, by far, the largest religious group in Lethbridge. Over 2 out of every 3 residents identify as some type of Christian.
The next largest group is all those who are not religious. This includes atheists, agnostics, humanists, and simply “no religion”. This makes up almost the other third of residents. Combined, Christians and those with no religion make up 97.55% of the population. The other 2.45% are religious, but not Christian; Hindus, Jewish people, Sikhs, Muslims, etc would fall under this group.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. If we break Christianity into its component denominations, we find that “non-religious” is actually the largest “religious” group in Lethbridge, being larger than any single Christian denomination. There are over 50% more non-religious people in Lethbridge than there are Catholics, which is the singlemost largest Christian group, making up roughly 30% of all Christians in Lethbridge.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is actually only the 4th largest Christian denomination in Lethbridge. Catholics, United, and non-denominational Christians are each larger than those claiming to be Mormon. And while they make up roughly 12% of the total number of Christians in Lethbridge, Mormons are only about 8% of the general population.
Now, there is a higher percentage of Mormons in Lethbridge than there is in any other metropolitan city in Canada. And they do make the top 10 largest religious groups in Lethbridge; heck, they even make the top 5. But that being said, there are 2.5 times as many Catholics in Lethbridge as there are Mormons.
In fact, there are roughly 400% more non-religious people in Lethbridge than there are Mormons.
So, it’s a bit of a stretch to really call Lethbridge a Mormon town. Especially when there are so many actual Mormon towns nearby.