Lord Snow is presiding today over Australia’s amazing new census results!
Like most countries, Australia asks its residents to fill out a census on a regular basis. This census asks people there for a bunch of demographic information that the country uses to allocate resources more effectively. Some of the questions on that census are about residents’ religious beliefs and practices. (Not all countries ask for this information–America doesn’t–but Australia doesn’t have the separation of Church and State that America enjoys.)
The results of that census from last year, posted just today, show that the number of Australians who are non-religious is increasing at a speed most of us wouldn’t even have thought possible 20 years ago.
“Nones” are Exploding in Number.
Since 1966, when the proportion of the population who marked “no religion” on their census was just 0.8%, the number that now mark “no religion” has swelled to 29.6%, nearly double the 16% recorded in 2001. That category now accounts for a higher proportion of the population than any single religious denomination for the first time.
For the purposes of the census, the group they’re calling Nones comprises atheists, agnostics, secularists, and anybody else who isn’t part of any religion. (And really, if they’re really more interested in knowing about residents’ religious faith in order to allocate resources then it makes sense that they don’t really care what kind exactly a None is, only that they have no religious affiliations.)
From .8% in 1966 to 16% in 2001 to 29.6% in 2016–that’s an incredible jump, an eye-watering leap forward.
Oh, and that’s only one-half of the good news.
During That Same Period, Christians Have Been Declining in Number at Breakneck Speed.
As you might guess, a lot of the rise in Nones is coming from people leaving Christianity’s ranks. And that’s indeed what the census discovered:
Over that period since 1966, the proportion of the population who self-identify as Christian, combining all Christian denominations, has fallen from 88.2% to 52.1%.
In fact, about 60% of the population claims to belong to some religion or other, so that means another 8% belong to something besides Christianity. But that’s still a shockingly low number–and it’s still reflective of a sharp decrease in recent years.
Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn that older people tend to be more religious, while younger people were far more likely to be Nones. Australians might not be surprised to learn that Queensland and New South Wales are the most Christian states in the country, either. Queensland is one of Australia’s worst-performing states economically, while NSW is mediocre-to-middling in pretty much every direction compared to other states there–and its low educational requirements seem poised to keep things that way. (But hey, it’s good news for Ken Ham at least. Creationism flourishes where ignorance and scientific illiteracy are allowed a foothold.)
What’s funny in a way is that some Christians were apparently trying to urge ex-Christians to falsely claim that they were still Christian in order to STOP THE EVIL MUSLIM INCURSION or something last year–and the religion still ended up with that kind of a drop.
The Jedi May or May Not Be Returning.
Despite rather a lot of pushback from, well, everybody and their dog, a lot of Australians continue to list “Jedi” as their religion. Yes, as in Star Wars. It kinda cheeses off their government, too. But the actual number of people in Australia claiming Jedi as their religion is decreasing a bit. It doesn’t say how much, and the people writing that report aren’t sure if the decrease is just part of an overall decrease in religious faith or if the fad has just had its day.
I’m mentioning it here because that was my very first question when I heard this news about the census, so I figured it might be someone else’s as well.
Ain’t a bit of good news a welcome thing at the beginning of the week?
See you on Tuesday!
Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic chat series! Feel free to talk about the topic I’ve brought up here, or introduce whatever you like. We love our lurkers and newbies!