Easter, even more than Christmas, is the time when society reflects on things religious, and so it is timely for us to share a research snapshot of Christianity in Australia.
Christianity in Australia
Christianity is still the religion to which most Australians identify (61%), having declined only slightly since the 2006 Census (64%).
Growth in the “Spiritual but not Religious” Category
However because the Census question gives the options of traditional religions only, the proportion of Australians who consider themselves as “spiritual but not religious” are forced to choose either the option of no religion, or for many of them, Christianity. Therefore the Census figure for Christianity is higher than it would otherwise be, and is an over-representation of the proportion of Australians who are adherents to Christianity.
We were commissioned by Olive Tree Media to conduct research in this area and when we asked a national sample of Australians (1,094 completed surveys) the same question but with the option of “spiritual but not religious” the proportion of Australians identifying with Christianity dropped from 61% to 40% as a result of 19% selecting this new option.
Religious Identity but less Activity
While 61% of the population (more than 14 million Australians) identify with Christianity, only about 1.8 million Australians regularly attend church (at least once per month, NCLS data ). Therefore for every Australian who nominates Christianity as their religious identity, just 1 in 8 of these participate in attendance activity.
Our research showed that of those who identify themselves as religious, just 13% are actively and regularly involved in the practicing of this through group gatherings or church attendance.
The decline in church attendance that has occurred in Australia over the past few decades is explained in the following chart which tracks the religious journeys of Australians. While around 1 in 4 were not raised as religious and still are not, and just over 1 in 4 were raised in a religious household and still are, the largest group of all (29%) are the “not now religious” category who were shaped in a religious household but are themselves not religious.
Significant Belief in Jesus
Australians are warm towards Christianity as demonstrated by the high identity with it, and similarly strong on belief in Christ.
4 in 5 Australians accept that Jesus was a real person from history, with almost half of these also accepting that he was the son of God (35%).
But Uncertain on the Details
When given multiple choice options, 2 in 5 Australians (42%) could correctly identify that Jesus lived in the first century AD, although more than 1 in 4 Australians (28%) have no idea in which century Jesus lived. Of particular interest were the 27% who stated that Jesus lived “in ancient times BC” (Before Christ)!
For more information
If you found this article interesting, download our free Faith in Australia Report for more information on Australian churchgoers.
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