I’ll try to avoid gratuitous schadenfreude, but there does seem to be a trend, and my own opinions are no secret, so… draw your own conclusions.
First of all, 18.7% specified “No religion” (which “Comprises ‘No Religion, nfd’, ‘Agnosticism’, ‘Atheism’, ‘Humanism’ and ‘Rationalism’”). This is up from 15.5% in 2001, and 16.6% in 1996. Throw in “Religious affiliation not stated” (also up to 11.2% – the religion question was optional), and nearly 30% of respondents did not associate themselves with a religion.
Christianity dropped to 63.9%, from 68.0% in ‘01 and 70.9% in ‘96. This is pretty consistent as an absolute number of people (a bit either side of 12.7 million), which means that about as many Aussies have left Christianity as have joined it in the last ten years, including children born into Christian families (that’s a flame war for another day, Professor Dawkins).
Looking at Christian denominations… Catholicism is still the biggest at 5.1 million, up from 4.8 million in ‘96 but down as a percentage of the population. The Anglican church has lost nearly 200,000 members in that time, from 3.9 to 3.7 million. Similar numbers for the Uniting Church, from 1.3 to 1.1 million. Those are the only three categories over a million.
Among the denominations that have grown, “Pentecostal” has gone from 175,000 to 220,000 since ‘96. That’s slightly worrying. Mormons have grown from 45,000 to 53,000. (I’m making up the number of significant digits as I go along. If you need the real numbers, go and look them up.)
Interestingly, “Christian nfd” (not further defined) has gone up from 186,000 to 313,000. My theory is that a lot of people still have Christian beliefs, but are giving up on actual churches. That’s just a guess.
Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are all up, to 2.11%, 0.75% and 1.71%. The number of Hindus and Buddhists have more than doubled in those ten years. I don’t think it’d be too controversial to guess that this is partially due to immigration.
Something else that’s interesting… Here’s a graph that shows the breakdown by age bracket.
For the record, I’m 26.11 comments