Slow Erosion of Faith

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Australia revealed the first of its 2016 census results last week, and faith received much attention. Australians are losing their religion: 29.6 percent of 23.4 million people described themselves as having no religion, up from 21.8 percent five years ago, and 9.6 percent declined to answer. Religious affiliation is the only optional question the census question.

Anglicans slipped further behind — 3 million Anglicans are now 13 percent of the population, behind Roman Catholics (22.6 percent). Christianity is the largest world faith, reported at 57.7 percent.

Fifty years ago, the 1966 Census showed that Anglicans were 33.6 percent of the population, and Australians were 88.5 percent Christian.

Commentators have pointed out the rise in no religion could have been because it was the first option listed. There are some criticisms of the census statistics, as this was the first time it had been done almost completely online, with a catastrophic computer failure on the official night of the count.

One statistic that has not changed is no reply. In 1966, 9.9 percent of Australians declined to answer the question about religion. Australians seem to be reliably stubborn about nosy questions from government.

Robyn Douglass


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