About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

An article on religious belief in Australia

H/T Brian for pointing this out on the other thread.

Correspondingly, there has been a large increase in those claiming to have ‘no religion’: up from 27 per cent of the population in 1993 to 43 per cent in 2009. This figure is much higher than the figure of 19 per cent who said they had no religion in the 2006 Census as well as previous ISSP surveys. The difference is partly due to the fact that the 2009 ISSP asked people first if they had a religion before asking what was their religion. In other surveys and the Census, people have simply chosen their religion from a list in which 'no religion' was an option. Further, the Census question is marked as optional and a lot of people choose not to respond to the Census question about religion (11.2 per cent compared with around 3 per cent in the ISSP surveys). The other difference is that the surveys tend to reflect better where people feel themselves to be because they ask a distinct question about what religion they were raised in. Many people respond to the Census in terms of the heritage of the family or their personal background rather than their present sense of identification. The survey provides a more accurate picture of how many Australians currently regard themselves as having ‘no religion’.
It's an interesting and detailed study, which delves more deeply into the nature of religious belief, non-belief, etc., in Australia, and doubtless captures more of the reality than the census figures. If anything, though, it shows even more strongly than the census figures that serious religious belief is in decline in Australia. Worryingly for the churches, people from the first generation where non-belief became very common do not seem to be turning back to the churches as they approach old age. This is my generation, of course, the so-called baby boomers. We're getting on in years by now - even the youngest of us are about 50 - but we're not heading back to religion yet.

Do have a look: it's all fascinating stuff.


askegg said...

I am eagerly awaiting the results of the latest census in which the Atheist Foundation of Australia has a moderately successful campaign encouraging people to answer the question honestly.

Russell Blackford said...

Yeah ... me. too. There was also, as I guess you know, a scare campaign telling people to answer withe some kind of Christian response to avoid having mosques built in their backyards. Hopefully, everyone saw through that.

Anonymous said...

Here's another recent survey which looks at belief and non-belief in Australia - conducted this year for a church by McCrindle Research - http://www.olivetreemedia.com.au/resources/Olive%20Tree%20Media/Apologetics%20Series/Reseach%20Summary-web.pdf.

McCrindle have been accused of using unreliable methodologies in the past, so you'd want to know more about the survey methods before giving too much credence. The full report costs $20 and may detail the methodology if anyone was interested.

Nevertheless, the results aren't that far away from what Hughes found.

I liked the fact that 17% of respondents though that Jesus never existed - the Christ Myth Theory is alive and well in Australia!