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.

Sydney: Australia's most religious city

Thursday, October 08, 2015

There has much discussion of the decline of religion in Australia as measured by the last two Census’ (2006 and 2011) with the total stating “no religion” increasing from 18.7 to 22.3 over this five year period. Additionally the decline in the total identifying with a Christian denomination decreased from 64% to 61%.

However nationally the percentage identifying as Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, and “other protestant” saw no decline and those in the Christian (not further defined) category saw an increase. Sydney is Australia’s most religious capital city with the lowest proportion of residents stating “no religion” (17.6%), while Hobart (29.4%) and Canberra (28.9%) have the highest proportion of populations not identifying with any religion.

The two dominant Christian identities nationally are Catholic (25.3%) and Anglican (17.1%). However Hobart is the one capital where Anglican (26.2%) outranks Catholic (20.3%) while Melbourne has the biggest differential between the two with Catholic (27.2%) more than twice the adherents as Anglican (10.8%). However it is Sydney that is the most Catholic of the capitals with 28.3%, and well ahead of Anglican at 16.1%. The areas of Sydney that have the highest identification with Christianity are in the South West with Menai, Mulgoa, Narellan, Warragamba and Horsley Park all areas rating above 80% Christianity. Sydney is also the only capital where a religion other than Christianity ranks in the top 3 (Islam, at 4.7%) with Auburn (42%) and Lakemba (49%) having the highest proportion of residents identifying with Islam.

Australia’s largest city, Sydney, is a religiously diverse one, and there is a strong link between location and religion as seen by these maps:

  • Catholic
  • Anglican
  • Judaism
  • Islam

For an in-depth visual look of Sydney by religious identification simply click on the interactive map above, and select the religions you would like to analyse by selecting the Visible layers box and options. You can also zoom in to look at specific areas of Sydney, or hover over a suburb to read the data.

About McCrindle Research Services

Utilising the right tools and methods and analysing the data is just half of the research process. Because the goal is implementation, the findings need the skills of visualisation and communication. As researchers we understand the methods, but we’re also designers and communicators so we know how to present the findings in ways that will best engage.

Geomapping is a new tool we have and we will be releasing more information and blog pieces on this exciting new output.

Let us know via social media if you have any topics you would like to be geomapped!

Connect with us on:

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


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