Easter Sunday may celebrate Christ rising, but the proportion of Australians who identify as Christian is falling fast, down over 8% points in the last two years. If the current downward trend were 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 over two to one: 60.9% of Australians 14+ (11.4 million) said they belonged to a Christian denomination compared with 29.2% (5.5 million) who said they had no religious affiliation—each near their respective proportional averages since 2009.
But in the latest quarter October to December 2013, 52.6% of Australians (10.2 million) are Christian, while 37.6% (7.3 million) have no religion—halving the gap to 15% points.
Proportion of Australians 14+ who say they are a Christian denomination or No Religion:
Source: Roy Morgan Research, January 2009 to December 2013, rolling quarters.
Average quarterly sample n = 4840 Australians aged 14+
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. A small percentage of Australians (<2% each quarter) opt not to reveal any religious affiliation.
Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director – Roy Morgan Research, says:
"By Easter next year, it could well be the first time that the majority of Australians don’t affiliate with Christianity.
"These results are not necessarily about belief, per se, 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. 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.”
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Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
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