Rejoice, Brother Blackford, for you live in a nation that, according to a new survey, is surprisingly godless.
Based on the reports about resurgent creationism and goddiness in Australian schools, I was prepared to think that Australia lies somewhere between the U.S. and England in the degree of religiosity. But a new “Australian Communities Report,” a survey of 1094 adults commissioned by Olive Tree Media, seems to show the country nearly as atheistic as Scandinavia. Equally surprising, Olive Tree Media appears to be a religious outfit that produces Christian-based media.
Here’s a summary of the report from The Age, a daily newspaper from Melbourne:
Olive Tree director Karl Faase, who is releasing the report at a forum of 70 religious leaders, said the survey sought to identify the ”blocker issues” that turned people off faith.
The obstacle that annoys Australians most is the celebrity endorsements of religion so common in the United States – 70 per cent said they were repelled by it, questioning the motives behind it. Claims of miraculous stories (58 per cent) also repelled non-believers.
The biggest problems Australians have with the church is abuse by the clergy (cited by 91 per cent), hypocrisy and judging others (both 88 per cent) religious wars (83 per cent) and issues around money (87 per cent).
When it comes to church teachings, the main objections are its ideas about homosexuality (69 per cent), hell and condemnation (66 per cent), and the role of women and suffering (both 60 per cent). But 52 per cent were open to philosophical discussion and debating ideas; 54 per cent were impressed by people who lived out a genuine faith, and 60 per cent acknowledged a personal trauma or significant life change might change their attitude to religion.
About 40 per cent of Australians consider themselves Christian, compared with the 2006 census response of 64 per cent, the survey shows. Another 10 per cent identify with other religions; 19 per cent call themselves spiritual but not religious, and 31 per cent identify as having no religion or spiritual belief. Of those who identify with a religion, about half say they don’t actively practise it.
This is all pretty heartening, especially the 24% drop in self-identified Christians in only five years. Perhaps Aussie readers can weigh in about whether they’ve noticed such a striking change. And 31% with no religion or spiritual belief? That compares very favorably with the least religious countries of Europe.
Here’s a five-minute video of the first presentation of the report’s results:
Advance Australia fair!