In Australia, Godless Overtake Anglicans, as Hinduism Doubles

Barney Zwartz | 23 June 2012
  • Catholics  5,439,268
  • No religion 4,796,787
  • Anglican 3,679,907
  • Uniting Church  1,065,795
  • Presbyterian and Reformed  599,515
  • Hindu  275,535

People professing to have no religion have moved past Anglicans to become the  second-largest grouping after Catholics in the 2011 [Australian] Census.

Almost 4.8 million people said they had no religion, up 29 per cent from  2006, but the number of people not answering the question dropped by 2 per cent.  This suggested that more people were claiming a religious identity (including no  religion), said Monash University sociology professor Gary Bouma.

The total Christian population is 13.2 million, or 61 per cent, down three  percentage points. Catholics have dropped half a percentage point to 25.3 or 5.4  million, Anglicans are down 1.6 percentage points to 3.7 million, while the  Uniting Church is down to 5 per cent, or 1.1 million people.

Minority religions all showed strong growth, particularly Hindus, whose  numbers nearly doubled to 276,000, from 0.7% to 1.3%. Buddhists have risen from  2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent, Muslims from 1.7 per cent to 2.2 per  cent.Professor Bouma said Hindu growth was due to migration, and the recent  Muslim growth was due to continued migration from south Asia and a high birth  rate.

‘‘The rise in ‘no religion’ continues its historic trend, even in the face of  an apparent small rise in claiming a religious identity. So polarisation is  increasing,’’ Professor Bouma said.

In five of eight states and territories, no religion provides the largest  group.  In Victoria and Queensland it is second, behind Catholics, and in  NSW it is third, also behind Anglicans.

An interesting development is in the groups coming next in each state and  capital city. In Sydney, Muslims have passed Eastern Orthodox into fourth place  with 4.7 per cent, but for the state of NSW Islam is fifth, following the  Uniting Church.

In Melbourne the Eastern Orthodox are fourth (5.5 per cent) and Buddhists  fifth (4 per cent), while statewide in Victoria the Uniting Church leapfrogs the  Orthodox into fourth.

In all other states and capital cities the Uniting Church is fourth. In  Queensland and Brisbane, Presbyterians take fifth spot. In Western Australia  undefined Christians have replaced Presbyterians in fifth position but in both  Perth and Canberra it is Buddhists who have displaced Presbyterians.  Presbyterians keep fifth place in Tasmania, including Hobart.

In Adelaide Orthodox Christians take fifth spot, while for the whole state  Lutherans are fifth, as they are in Darwin and the Northern Territory.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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