New Survey of Australian Religion
4 December 2006 at 1:34 pm
A new survey reveals that religion in Australia is growing and increasingly popular with younger people.
Prof. Gary Bouma, Monash University academic and UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations, released the results of a comprehensive analysis of Australian religion.
The findings are contained in his new book, “Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century”, published by Cambridge University Press Australia.
Prof Bouma argues that while it’s long been assumed that religion is giving way to more scientific beliefs, Australia’s soul is alive and kicking.
In fact, he says his survey shows that religion in Australia is growing and increasingly popular.
Amongst those religions on the rise are Buddhism (up 79% since 1996), Islam (up 40%), Hinduism (up 42%),
Pentecostalism (up 11%), ‘nature religions’ including Paganism and Wicca/witchcraft, (up 130%), and Scientology (up
The key findings of the report include:
• That a substantial majority of Australians (74.7%) continue to identify with a religious group, and spirituality is ever-increasing.
• That Australia’s religious and spiritual life is increasingly diverse and less tied to formal organisations (those in the category ‘Other Religions’ in the 2001 census had increased by 33%).
• That Australia’s future seems certain to involve religion and spirituality, including both new and traditional forms.
The challenge for religious leaders is to make faith relevant and contemporary.
While Australians are not as devout as their US counterparts, the survey found they are more religious than citizens of
many other Western nations, such as the UK and Sweden.
Australia’s youth appear to be flocking to new and emerging mega-churches, such as those of Christian Pentecostals, engaging in energising forms of worship that Bouma refers to as “spiritual aerobics”.
The findings of Bouma’s survey show that the historic reasons for seeking spirituality remain especially relevant post-9/11: searching for the meaning of life, dissatisfaction with materialism and scientific rationality, and the natural
compassion of humanity.