A Matter of Fact

The 2016 Australian Census reported on the changing distribution of Australians’ religious identity. Here’s what it told us

Religion and spirituality span national, geographic, cultural and ethnic boundaries. It can play an important role in meeting our social, psychological and cultural needs. The 2016 Australian Census reported on the changing distribution of Australians’ religious identity. This is some of what it told us about what religion looks like in contemporary Australia.

29.6% of all participants identified as having ‘no religion’.

The percentage of Australians marking ‘no religion’ on their census forms has been increasing for decades and is accelerating.

Christianity is the most common religion at 52%.

Catholicism is the largest Christian grouping at 22.6%.

The next most common religions are Islam (2.6%) and Buddhism (2.4%).

Hinduism has had the most significant growth between 2006 and 2016, driven by immigration from South Asia.

Young adults aged 18-34 were more likely to be affiliated with religions other than Christianity, and to report not having a religion (39%) than other adult groups.

Older age groups, particularly those aged 65 years and over, were more likely to report Christianity.

Victoria has the highest proportion reporting an affiliation with a religion other than Christianity.

Tasmania had the highest proportion of people stating that they did not have a religion.

Nearly half (47%) of those born overseas reported an affiliation with a Christian religion, compared with 58% of the Australian-born population.

The proportion of those born overseas who were affiliated with a religion other than Christianity was considerably higher than for those born in Australia (21% and 3.7% respectively).

People who identified as sex and/or gender diverse were more likely than the rest of the Australian population to not have a religious affiliation across all age groups.

The difference was most noticeable for young adults (aged 18-34 years), where almost three quarters of sex and/or gender diverse people (74%) reported not having a religious affiliation compared with 39% of the rest of the population in this age group.

People in same-sex couples were most likely to report they had no religion (57%), however, 32% said they were Christian.

This may be partly due to the large number of young people reporting they were in a same-sex relationship and the greater likelihood of younger people reporting no religion.

Same-sex partners were more likely to be affiliated with Buddhism than those in opposite sex couples (3.9% compared with 2.7%).

They were also less likely to be affiliated with Hinduism (0.5% compared with 2.4%) or Islam (0.7% compared with 2.4%).

ABS CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING 2016 – ABS.GOV.AU UPDATED 11 JULY 2018
RELIGION IN AUSTRALIA – 2016 CENSUS DATA SUMMARY, SAME-SEX COUPLES IN AUSTRALIA, 2016
SEX AND GENDER DIVERSITY: CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RESPONDING POPULATION

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