Census data reveals Christianity in Australia is dramatically falling, with fewer than half of respondents in the latest census indicating they were Christian compared to 60% who did so in 2011. The number of Australians who aren’t religious has almost doubled over the decade, with almost 40% indicating in the latest census that they have no religious belief. Catholicism remained the biggest Christian denomination, with 20% of those who responded that they were Christian identifying as Catholic, followed by almost 10% who identified as Anglican. While just 22% of Australians said they had no religion in 2011, that number has leapt to 38.9% in the latest census, up almost 10% from 2016. However, other religions have grown since the last census, with Hinduism growing by 55.3% to 684,000 people and Islam growing to 813,000 people. The two religious groups make up 2.7% and 3.2% of the population respectively.

The question on religion is one of the few topics in the census that is voluntary, with the number of people choosing to answer it growing from 91% in 2016 to 93% in the latest census. Australian Statistician David Gruen said the data showed “a characteristic of Australia that has changed significantly over the past two decades”. “Knowing about the religious affiliation across the population supports local planning for facilities, goods and services for Australians who identify as religious and helps them to live according to their belief,” he said. Religion was a major topic of focus in the past year, when the Morrison government attempted to pass the Religious Discrimination Bill before the election. Five moderate Coalition MPs crossed the floor when the legislation was put to parliament in February, with concerns over the discrimination it would cause for transgender students and teachers at religious schools.

Labor has committed to passing a version of the bill before the next election, but has not been clear on when it will be put to parliament. In order to address the concerns about discrimination towards members of the LGBTQI community, Labor has said it will change the Sex Discrimination Act which allows for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Faith groups want the law to be passed as soon as possible.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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