Christians set to become a minority in Australia

Tracey Joynson

EASTER Sunday may be one of the most important Christian celebrations, but for many Australians it will just be about chocolate.

The proportion of Australians who identify as Christian is falling fast, down over 8% points in the last two years.

And if the current trend was to continue, Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.

In late 2011, Christians outnumbered the non-religious by more than two to one with  60.9% of Australians  (11.4 million) identifying as Christian compared with 29.2% (5.5 million) who said they had no religious affiliation.

But in the latest quarter October to December 2013, 52.6% of Australians (10.2 million) said they were Christian, while 37.6% (7.3 million)  said they had no religion.

If the recent trend continues, fewer than 50% of Australians may be self-identifying as Christian by this time next year.  

Another 8.3% of Australians (1.6 million) currently identify with a non-Christian religion, only slightly above the long-term average of 7.6% since 2009.

Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris said the results were not necessarily about belie but rather our changing attitudes to religious affiliation.

"The decline in the proportion of Australians who say they are Christian-whether Catholic, Anglican or another denomination-coupled with a similarly sized increase in the number who tell us they have no religion, could reflect a growing level of genuine atheism or agnosticism, or instead simply a shift away from identifying with organised Christianity, despite ongoing theistic faith," Mr Morris said. "Likely, it is a combination of both."

"Either way, many factors could be contributing to the fall in the number of Christian adherents in Australia.

"For example, some morally conservative religious doctrines may be contrasting with progressive attitudes toward personal issues such as abortion, societal issues such as same-sex marriage, and global issues such as the use of condoms in the fight against the HIV pandemic.

"The recent trend also coincides with the public pressure for, launch of and media attention given to the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse which has, as one focus, alleged crimes by religiously affiliated personnel and cover-ups by church organisations."

Topics:  christianity editors picks religion research

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