Nones Down Under

June 22, 2012

Just a brief note on a recent news item: the 2011 Australian Census reveals a large rise in the number of people claiming to belong to no religion: over 22%, up from just under 19% as recently as 2006. 61% of Aussies still consider themselves one or another sort of Christian, and the Roman Catholics are still the largest single group, but all other denominations – most recently the Anglicans – have been overtaken by the Nones.

Hinduism and Islam are growing, mainly due to immigration.

I saw somewhere, apparently not in the linked article, that unsurprisingly the growth of the Nones is greatest among the young.

All this shows that the whole Western world is undergoing the same sort of transition. I recall that a few decades ago Holland was roughly where Australia is now: the non-religious got into the news for overtaking the individual Protestant denominations, then a census or two later they outnumbered the Catholics too. Now they are close to half the population, outnumbering all the Christian churches combined.

In countries where a single denomination is dominant, you’re more likely to see a higher rate of nominal membership, but not much widespread participation.

Stay tuned. I’d like to write about a number of things, the trend towards Calvinism among the Southern Baptists, the question of whether the Catholic church should welcome becoming leaner and meaner, and the like; and starting next week I should have more time to do it!

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