“No Religion” is the Top Religion in Australia

No Religion Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics decided to move “no religion” to the top of the list on the Census which is in line with international practice and consistent with it being the second highest response to the religion question. The change in the question’s position maybe had a small effect on the final result but the important thing is that Australian citizens chose “no religion” more than any listed specific denomination on the nation’s 2016 Census. This census is conducted every five years.

The first full results from the census show that for the first time in Australia’s history the number of people who claim “no religion” has overtaken Catholics. The “no religion” category includes atheist, secularists, and those who are agnostic. Since 1966, when the proportion of the population who marked “no religion” on their census was just 0.8%, the number that now mark “no religion” has swelled to 29.6%, nearly doubles the 16% recorded in 2001. On the other hand, those identifying as Catholic dropped from 25.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent.

Christians still make up 52% of population but that number is much lower than the 88% in 1966 and 74% in 1991. Islam and Buddhism were the next most common religion reported with 2.6 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Islam grew from 2.2 per cent in 2011, overtaking Buddhism (which dropped from 2.5 per cent) to become the most popular non-Christian religion. The religion question was controversial this year, with Australians warned not to mark “no religion” on the Census survey by those afraid the nation would become a “Muslim country”.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia president Kylie Sturgess said that it was time to take religion out of politics because political, business and cultural leaders needed to listen to the non-religious when it came to public policy that’s based on evidence, not religious beliefs. “This includes policy on abortion, marriage equality, voluntary euthanasia, religious education in state schools and anything else where religious beliefs hold undue influence,” she said.

In terms of age, young adults aged 18-34 were more likely to be affiliated with religions other than Christianity (12 per cent) and to report not having a religion (39 per cent) than other adult age groups. Older age groups, particularly those aged 65 years and over, were more likely to report Christianity.

Photo Credits: Vic Skeptics

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