Update: Having, in this post, expressed hope that others will do similar research to the Australian study, and especially interested in how it might compare to New Zealand, we now have a New Zealand study – I will blog about this soon!
I have been reading a fascinating Australian study on religion, spirituality, and worldview trends. It digs deeper than census data. It gives a great snapshot of one Western nation. And, my hope is that others will do similar quality research.
One of the responses I’ve come across is for Kiwis to say: well this is the situation in Aus – it won’t be much different here. Well – I’m not at all sure that is the case. My suspicion is that things are quite different in NZ. And that’s why I think this sort of study needs to be done in each context. My guess is that religion is twice as significant in Australian life than it is in New Zealand…
Fascinatingly – 1 in 29 Australians haven’t even heard of Jesus.
The biggest blocker to Australians engaging with Christianity is the Church’s stance and teaching on homosexuality (Faith and Belief in Australia page 10).
Australia is heading towards a quarter of people identifying with no religion. That will only increase – about 36% of those below the age of 53 identify with no religion. There’s a further reflection needed on how this is getting out of step with trends on the rest of the planet. We here in NZ regularly get the impression that atheism is on the increase – well it’s not. Internationally, atheism appears to have peaked. Anti-theism, certainly, has lost its lustre. I was speaking to a group of fourth-year medical students about Richard Dawkins speaking in NZ. None of them had heard of him.
The world and the church are changing. China is heading to be the nation with the most Christians in it by 2030. According to a PEW Research Center study, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It will outnumber Christianity in 2050.
Do have a good look around the study. What interests you, surprises you, challenges you; what do you think?
H/T Sande Ramage