Faith, belief and churchgoing in Australia

Thursday, March 24, 2016

While it is a stretch to describe diverse, 21st Century Australia as a Christian country, the national data on religious identity from the 2011 Census shows the majority of Australians (61.1%) identify their religion as Christianity, a slight decline from 63.9% in the 2006 Census. More than a quarter of the population (25.3%) identify as Catholic, with the second most common Christian affiliation being Anglican (17.1%) and third is the Uniting Church (5%).

The most common non-Christian religions were Buddhism (2.5%), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%). Not only is the total proportion of Australians identifying with a Christian denomination 24 times larger than the second most common religion (Buddhism), but Christianity is 8 times larger than all non-Christian religions combined (7.2%).

The rise in no religion

The fastest growing religion as identified over the two last census’ has been Hinduism, which increased from 0.7% to 1.3%, an increase of 127,410 adherents. However, the biggest growth in total numbers has been the rise in no religion from 18.7% in 2006 to 22.3% in 2011, which represents an increase in more than 1 million people over this time from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. Such has been the rise in Australians selecting no religion, it is now the most common “belief” category in 5 of Australia’s 8 states and territories (Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). Yet in both Victoria and Queensland, Catholic (26.7% and 23.8% respectively) comes ahead of no religion (24.0% and 22.1%) while in NSW- Australia’s most religious state, both Catholic (27.5%) and Anglican (19.9%) are ahead of no religion (17.9%).

Not only is NSW the most religious state but Sydney is Australia’s most religious capital city, with those selecting no religion (17.6%) significantly lower than is found in Brisbane (22.8%), the city of churches – Adelaide (28.1%), Canberra (28.9%) and Hobart, Australia’s least religious capital, (29.4%).

Majority believe in God

Not only does most of Australia identify with Christianity, but more than half (55%) of the population believes in God, as defined as the Creator of the universe, the Supreme Being.

However, there are signs of fading belief in God with the majority of the oldest generation aged over 70 believing in God (61%) along with the majority of the fifty and sixty-something Baby Boomers (53%) compared to a slight minority of late thirties and forty-something Gen Xers (46%) and Generation Y (41%) but less than 1 in 3 Gen Z’s (31%) who are today’s teenagers and early twenties.

The most common category for Australians’ belief in God is that they are believers, who believe now and always have (47%) and second are non-believers who don’t believe in God and never have (26%). Although, changers, who used to believe and now don’t (18%) are twice as common as converters, who believe in God now but didn’t used to (8%).

1 in 6 Australians are church-goers

Regular church attendance has also been declining over the past few generations and has more than halved in around 4 decades from 1 in 3 Australians (36% in 1972) to 1 in 6 currently (15%, National Church Life Survey 2011). While in decline, the total numbers of church goers nationally total around 3.6 million Australians, which makes church much more attended than the other Australian religion - professional sport. In fact, when thinking about this Easter weekend, 13% of Australians say they will definitely go to church with an additional 10% stating that they probably will- and if they all do, that’s more than 4 million adults, plus many kids in tow.

Attitudes towards God and Church this Easter

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Each year Easter provides an opportunity for Australians to not just consume copious amounts of chocolate but also to reflect on the Christian meaning of this national holiday.

In the lead up to Easter we surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,015 Australians to gage their attitudes and sentiments surrounding their belief in God and intentions to attend church this Easter.

Over half Australians believe God exists

Just over half (52%) of Australian’s believe that God exists as the creator of the universe and Supreme Being. These findings have yielded similar results to the same question asked to the Australian public 6 years ago (from the 2009 Survey of Australian Attitudes conducted by the Australian National University) in which 54% identified they have a belief in God.

Church attendance set to double at Easter

Whilst 15% of Australians regularly attend church (at least once a month, according to NCLS data), this is anticipated to double at Easter with around 1 in 3 Australians (30%) indicating they will attend church at Easter this year.

National Church Life Survey data shows that over the last four decades the proportion of Australians attending church at least once per month has more than halved from 36% (1972) to 15% currently. However this is still a significant proportion of the Australian population and indeed twice as many Australians attend church at least once per month (3.495m) as attend all AFL, NRL, A League and Super Rugby games combined per month (1.684m) during the football season.

Christianity still Australia’s largest religion

The number of Australians identifying with Christianity is more than 24 times larger than the numbers identifying with the second largest religion in Australia, Buddhism (2.5%). Indeed, the proportion of Australians identifying with Christianity as their religion is more than eight times larger than Australians identifying with all other religions combined (7.3%).


Mark McCrindle - Social Researcher


P: 02 8824 3422

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


gen z Northern Beaches Christian School trend research pack social research mother's day in the media cooking families ease of travel TAS responsive year 12 FOMO emerging generations royal family marriages personalities outsourcing shopping research services slideshare 24,000,000 The ABC of XYZ socialising potts point sun daily telegraph charity post rationalism New Zealand church Financial Planning Association state ethnography government middle class socialites teachers children renting Education Future Forum New South Wales builders financial dreams Gen Y house Territory Kiwi house prices consumer alpha property tuesday digital population Australian Communities Trends darwin geomapping social researcher Australian Census generation alpha snapshot apartment Research Executive future proofing jobs of the future high density living food mortgage shbc wages school satisfaction marketing suburban living wellbeing learn Christmas lunch careers thought leadership baby names neutral bay presentations friends water mccrindle wealth and income brands Real Estate Institute of Victoria property price 2015 Mark McCrindle national wealth high density apartments area parents increasing densification tableau youth unemployment WA ABS REIV Conference Scouts Generation X population map insights census retirement Caregiver winter professional development wolloomooloo village millionth NT Duchess of Cambridge graphs January 26th high school social enquiry optimistic resource economy participants growth baby name university couple households facts christmas social lives Melbourne youth students Australian schools report Deaths australia statistics australians staying home more financial independence spend Australian Bureau of Statistics balance schools social commentary keynote speaker list The Daily Edition investment new york times capital cities staff growing population community engagement meals communicate city clothing Crime Rates Hornsby Shire Council easter parenting communications research data organisations workplace futurist stay home mythbusters learning styles mobile Births nfp engage career child care woolworths technology entrepreneurs of today personal growth Australia Day residents millenials VIC suburbs Aussies 40 million Northern Territory eliane Australian communities world sunburnt country future-proof cultural diversity Real Estate workplace culture rental stress events family JOMO sector moreton bay earnings research demographer dessert unemployment tattoos financial business sustainable world youth day divorce rate news twentyseventeen education future grandparents hornsby visual australian social research wealth NEETs stats educated millennials click university degree land of the middle class baby name trends NSW data social change Financial Planning Week monarchy house price follow generations sunny days tv work mates Generation Y media commentary royal influence skills social trends analyst equip offenders holidays social trends urban living Love celebration future of education professional moderators guide future proof February 16 know the times population growth innovation 2014 global generations Christchurch community event internship Sydney tea litter tips experience consumerism TDE PSI australian communities trends report mccrindle research challenge not-for-profit social commentator faux-cilising finance keynote collaborative proactive public holiday English cancelling event poor mccrindle in the media annual income customer conference speaker social media language low density curiosity affordable young people South Australia work-life demographic trends global financial crisis hobart Gen X 1975 networking staying in plans sydneycity future of work Geoff Brailey cloudy days Canberra fresh average aussie environment communication housing FPA Channel 7 volunteers life 1980 2012 teaching recap New Zeland internet culture learning IT Specialists household society typical australian vegetarian local global Christmas season huffington post hopes entertainment daily commute small business work urban taskforce not for profit rise of local suburb media activity google prince george product mover and shaker domestic debate SA Bathburst dare to dream communities World Water Day social impact 2013 Word Up Australian Trends rain leader visualisation economic omnibus results criminal emerging technologies video school students media release employers engagement cartodb sydneysiders sentiments System's Architect dream speakers demographic budget royal baby national private wealth faux-ciliser data visualisation housing trends intern "know the times" panel princess charlotte coffee Tasmania capital city 2016 generation Royals Australian demographics Australian Home Australians Australian Dream royal selfie dreaming 2020 property market gold coast GPO gen alpha financial future Northern beaches Event ashley fell newspaper trends of 2016 qualitative research organisational culture business index ultimo public speaking emerging trends high density presentation Tuesday Trends anzac hills shire tertiary education award rent research visualisation Western Australia states summer urban eliane miles easy rider year 7 collaboration McCrindle Speakers Wellington DIY 1968 winter blues community social shifts ACF 2016 greatness marrickville cancelling plans Kirsten Brewer program australian communities forum trends blaxland housing affordability Valentine’s Day media mateship internships megatrends 1994 group session cost of living salary Charlotte crows nest christianity friendship divorce menai mccrindle tea schools students non profit education future report entrepreneur sector wide study Population Clock future Aussie google for education wealth distribution vegemite 10 years Wodonga etiquette DESTEL social analysis EFF education sector kate middleton deloitte income environmental scanning sydney event trend tuesday Northern Beaches Australian Families society trends home ownership population milestone poker master education research the changing face of relational ipswich training sydney speaker long weekend school lalor park living energy professional speaker brand experience father's day investor social researchers religion Christmas presents optus mythbusting seasons thrive Netflix holiday renter of the future Sydney keynote speaker buildings rule keeper narcissism workshop goal conference Res Vis CBD teach pyrmont jobs bondi baby name predictions politics leadership survey design national crime rates demographics Myth generational trends real focus group names ACT baby boom cash survey Wagga Wagga urban living index women lifestyle online publication unaffordable priorities online shopping rising house prices teacher gender affordability quote trends of 2017 Tuesday Trend demographic transformations transport marriage forecasting interactive local communities manly Channel Seven employment REIV National Conference waverton 2017 shifts student men mining boom housing growth Social Trend cost baby weather infographic young australians victoria repayments wealth and income distribution commute perth goals going out learner logan identity educhat sector wide cold brisbane motivate rich ageing population workforce Australia Day 2017 townhouses Assistant Store Manager shopper's pick group case study social life in depth interviews faux-cilise home define crime resilience aussie culture market research fears leadership workshop overcast wedding mentor authenticity focus groups innovative Financial Planning Association of Australia study earn brand 23 million relevant Adelaide happiness analysis data analyst Do It Yourself safe teleworking insight ideas entrepreneurial paying to work Engineering Manager Queensland: QLD Merry Christmas baby boomers generation Z cars toys owning a home cancel plans housing market weekly earnings ACF researcher acf15 hello fresh ashley mckenzie HSC optus my business awards education 24 million conference presentation home owner event debt sports forum change Queensland