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


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