Audio: Eliane Miles of McCrindle Research in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
Is Australia losing its religion? To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of religion in Australia are an exaggeration.
Prominent Atheists were however, claiming some sort of victory when the results of the 2016 Census were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Census recorded a growth in the no religion category to 30% (up from 22%) since the previous census 5 years ago. The question about religious affiliation is not compulsory. In 2016, after a big lobbying effort by atheist and humanist groups, the ABS changed the format of the question so that no religion was the first option presented to participants.
The same groups also conducted extensive advertising across multiple media to encourage people to check the no religion box, especially appealing to people whose affiliation might be traditional and nominal.
In the circumstances, an increase in this category was hardly surprising, although it may have been disappointing to those who put so much energy into trying to create the perception that religious adherence was in the minority.
Sixty percent of respondents indicated a religious affiliation with the number of Christians being 51%.
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Nevertheless anti-religion activists bizarrely claimed that no religion was now the leading religion because it outnumbered the largest denominational result, being Catholics at just over 22%
For a closer analysis of the numbers, why the question matters, and other census results, Open House turned to Eliane Miles, researcher at McCrindle Reseach.