Studies of Religion. Changing patterns of religious adherence in Australia

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1 Studies of Religion Changing patterns of religious adherence in Australia

2 After the Second World War thousands of migrants gained assisted passage each year and most settled in urban areas of NSW and Victoria. Three million arrived from 60 countries within three decades. Australia s population more than doubled between 1947 (7.6 million) and 1986 (15.6 million). Net immigration and Australian born children and grandchildren of migrants accounted for almost three quarters of this growth. It is estimated that up to 45% of Australians are the migrants or the children of migrants.

3 Britain has been and is the largest single source of migrants. During the 1950s and 1960s there were also very large numbers of people from Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and other European countries, and then from Lebanon, Turkey and other countries. With the changed immigration policy significant numbers of Asian and South Pacific migrants have come in recent years. The dislocation caused by conflicts in Indochina brought many refugees, especially from Vietnam. Australia now has the most ethnically diverse population in the world.

4 Catholicism has grown in numbers and cultural diversity and is Australia s most multicultural denomination. Catholics have remained around 25-27% of the population for the last nine censuses, having grown from 1.6 million (21%) in 1947 to 5.1 million in This is mainly due to immigration from many countries especially Italy, England, Yugoslavia, Malta, Poland, and Ireland. Migration from Lebanon and other Middle Eastern areas also increased the numbers of Eastern Catholics. In more recent years migrants from South America, the Philippines and Vietnam have added further diversity to the Australian Catholic Church.

5 There was a dramatic growth in the number of Orthodox Christians, especially up to Most people from Greece and Cyprus, and many from former/current Yugoslavia, other parts of Eastern Europe and Russia and formerly associated states are Orthodox Their numbers grew from 17,000 in 1947 to 577,000 by 2006.

6 In fact immigration increased the numbers in all Christian denominations. The Anglican Church grew from about three million in 1947 to almost four million in This increase was influenced in part by the large influx of migrants from Britain. On the whole there has been less increase in cultural diversity within the Anglican Church and its proportionate share of the population began to drop in the 1950s as the numbers of Catholics and Orthodox increased. On the other hand, German and northern European migration helped the proportion of Lutherans to keep growing into the 1960s.

7 OTHER RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS Judaism was the first to grow. Migration from Europe immediately before and after the Second World War doubled the Jewish population. Almost all settled in either Melbourne (especially Polish Jews) or Sydney (which gained many Hungarian refugees). Islam was the largest religion other than Christianity from 1981 to Muslim migrants have come from Turkey in the 1960s, Lebanon in the 1970s, especially because of civil war, and more recently from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Balkans. Buddhism is now Australia s second largest religious tradition. It was the fastest growing (79%) between 1996 and The growth can be attributed mainly to immigration from Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, China and other countries. Hinduism has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. It is now the fastest growing religious tradition. Most Hindus were born in India or Fiji. Sikhism is growing at a similar rate off a much smaller base, through migrants from India.

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9 19

10 Religion in Australia 2006 Census Many Religions, all Australian

11 The 2006 census gives a snapshot of religious adherence in Australia: It reported that 64% of Australians were Christian; 6% were adherents of other religions; and 30% did not claim religious affiliation. There are variations in percentages for religious affiliation from state to state: NSW was the most religious, and most Christian and most other religious state. It also had the lowest percentage stating that they had no religion. Catholics are the largest denomination (26%), and have been since This is explained in part by recent migration patterns and decline over time in adherence to the Anglican Church of Australia. However, it is important to note that there have always been more Protestants than Catholics. In % were Protestant and 26% Catholic. Anglicans are down to 19% of the population, still a loss over 5% and in 15 years. This is explained in part by ongoing decline in the number of English immigrants and the ageing of Anglicans. Australia s third largest religious group is the Uniting Church at 5.7%.

12 The 2001 census gives a snapshot of religious adherence in Australia cont: Other Christian denominations constituting more than 1% of the population are Presbyterian (3%), Orthodox (3%) and Baptists and Lutherans and Pentecostals. There was a 79% increase in religions other than Christian from 1996 to The number of Buddhists grew twelvefold in 20 years. 3.7 million people (18.7%) stated that they had no religion, almost doubling in ten years. The census question about religion has always been voluntary and over 11% declined to answer.

13 The 2001 census gives a snapshot of religious adherence in Australia cont: A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE IN CENSUS 2006 For the first time ever the number of Christians declined

14 The 2001 census gives a snapshot of religious adherence in Australia (continued) The Australian population is ageing. Most major Christian denominations, especially Presbyterian, Uniting Church and Anglican are ageing faster than the population. Pentecostal and Orthodox are ageing slower than the population and the Catholic age profile is steady to slightly older. In comparison Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu adherents and those stating no religion are younger, and Jewish are much older. From this information one can make generally valid inferences about likely trends in Australia s religious profile.

15 % increase (1000s) (1000s) Hinduism Buddhism Sikhism? 12? Islam Judaism Total Other

16 % increase (millions) (millions) Christianity < Total Other Total No/Not Stated/Inadeq Australian Population

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18

19

20

21

22 Percentage of Population

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24

25

26 Percentage of Population

27 Percentage of Population ASCRG readjusted

28 Census figures understate Pentecostal adherence because some identify simply as Pentecostal and others name a church or their family s denomination. NCLS figures give a truer expression of Pentecostal commitment. In 2001 over 10% of attenders in an average week were in Pentecostal churches, that is, over 125 % of the 2001 census figure! Combined Pentecostal attendance was greater than the number of Anglicans attending weekly and second only to Catholic average attendance. The Assemblies of God is by far the largest Pentecostal movement in Australia. Other Pentecostal denominations include Christian Outreach Centres, Christian Revival Crusade, the Apostolic Church, the Foursquare Gospel Church and the Christian City Church. Pentecostals have a young age profile. They experienced rapid growth, especially in the 1980s. The rate of growth slowed from 41% ( ) to 16% ( ). Pentecostal churches are the main agents and beneficiaries of denominational switching.

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30 Percentage of Population Percentage of Australian Population Buddhists Source: Australian Censuses

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32 Percentage of Population

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34 No Religion and No Religion Stated Number of Australians Source: Australian Censuses No Religion Not Stated

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37 MANY RELIGIONS, ALL AUSTRALIAN Quietly, with comparatively little drama, a number of religious groups came and settled in Australia, becoming part of the landscape, part of Australian life and society. As these groups have settled in Australia they have come to be accepted such that now Australian society can be described as having many religions, all Australian. Gary D. Bouma (ed), Many Religions, All Australian: Religious Settlement, Identity and Cultural Diversity, Christian Research Association, Kew, 1996, p.205

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