CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Faith in Australia, and the Way Forward

Jun 27, 2017

The spiritual and religious makeup of a nation is not determined solely by a national census, but it can give us at least some rough ideas nonetheless. The results of the 2016 census are slowly being released, and today we had more information, including the state of religion in Australia.

Bear in mind that the question about religion was the only census question that was optional. So the numbers found here may well be somewhat different from reality. But assuming that they are more or less close to the actual figures, this is what we find:

Christians still make up the majority of Australians, with 52 per cent of the population. In 1966 it was 88 per cent. So there is no question that a decline is taking place here. But as mentioned, a census does not reveal everything. There are many people who still may well at least vaguely identify themselves as being Christian, even if they may not have chosen one of the major categories (Anglican, Catholic, etc).

australia 7And the obverse is all rather misleading as well. One report spoke about how we are “ditching religion in unprecedented numbers.” Well, yes and no. For example, the “no religion” category is growing, with 30 per cent today choosing that option. In 1966 this category was just one per cent.

While the atheists and misotheists will be salivating at the 30 per cent figure, it is far from clear that they should be. Having no religion of course does not make one an atheist. One can be involved in all sorts of spiritualities and non-materialist worldviews without being an atheist.

And all this despite the big campaign by atheist groups prior to the census to get people to opt for no religion. So to say Australia is less religious may not be all that accurate. Yes, leaving some of the mainstream religions is happening, but not across the board.

And the same news report I am looking at here also puts its own spin on things when it comes to non-Christian religions. The article seems all excited about how non-Christian religions are experiencing “massive growth”. Well, not quite.

Yes there is growth there, but the numbers are still extremely low. For example, Hindus have increased from 0.3 per cent in 1991 to 1.9 per cent in 2016. Buddhists have increased from 0.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent. And Muslims have gone up from 0.9 per cent to 2.6 per cent.

In each case we are still talking about very small numbers indeed. And one expects that these numbers are primarily a result of increased immigration from countries where these religions predominate. Indeed, this is reflected in the fact of where new arrivals are coming from. The top five countries of birth (excluding Australia) are these: England, New Zealand, China, India and the Philippines.

And this can also be seen in the top five languages spoken at home, with English at 73 per cent, Mandarin at 2.5 per cent, Arabic at 1.5 per cent, Vietnamese and Cantonese at one per cent each. So the rise in Islam and eastern religions seems to correspond in good measure with the sorts of people coming into this country, as opposed to masses of Australians converting to these religions.

So the bottom line on all this is as follows: Australia is still primarily a nation made up of those representing the Christian faith. Muslims may think they are taking over demographically speaking, but they have a very long way to go in this regard.

Sure, they are making huge gains by other means, such as creeping sharia and stealth jihad, and clueless dhimmi politicians, but that is another matter. Indeed, we can ask why so many politicians are bending over backwards to placate and promote a minority group that makes up just two and a half per cent of the population.

Just yesterday our Prime Minister made two major overtures to this tiny minority group. He attended an end of Ramadan feast and offered his blessing to Islam, and he pledged $625,000 of our tax dollars to fund Muslim football players. Really! See the three links below for more on this.

When a group comprises such a small percentage of the community, and when it involves a political ideology hostile to the values of freedom and democracy, you have to ask why Turnbull and other politicians are so supportive of it, while snubbing their noses at the Christian majority.

The truth is, most of the seats in Western Sydney are filled with Muslim populations, so many pollies feel they must at all costs toady to Muslims in the hopes of getting their votes – even though there are not that many votes to be had, and most would go to Labor anyway.

The other point to again emphasise is that the atheists have not taken over the nation. As I said, the 30 per cent no religion figure would contain a wide array of folks, many of whom would regard themselves as spiritually active, and not card carrying naturalists.

At best, many would simply consider themselves to be agnostics – so the question of God’s existence, and the reality of the supernatural, is still quite open. So while the secular humanist mob will try to milk these figures for all they’re worth, they too have a long way to go yet.

Thus for the most part Australia remains a Christian nation. If present trends continue we may well be less than 50 per cent come the next census. But while the secular left wants us completely silenced, and have no part in national debates, the truth is, Christians have as much right in a democracy to speak up as anyone else.

We have as much of a right to enter into the public arena and make our case as any other group. We will not be silenced. We will not let the bullies on the left browbeat us into submission. We will continue to be salt and light in this nation, and keep seeking to have a godly impact on a very needy society.

And if and when Christians get down to a mere handful, if I am still around I will keep speaking out about what matters. If we eventually need to meet in caves or forests to worship our God, that we will do. But while religious liberty still exists here, and while Christians still predominate, it is incumbent upon every believer to redeem the time for the days are evil.

It is vital that we all use the time wisely, and share the good news of Jesus Christ while we still can do it more or less freely. A day may come when we will pay a much heavier price indeed to share the liberating gospel message. But now, while the freedom is there, let us take full advantage of it.

www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/australians-are-older-ethnically-diverse-and-less-religious/8654440
www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/federal/2017/06/26/turnbull-marks-end-of-ramadan.html
www.richmondfc.com.au/news/2017-06-26/prime-minister-visits-richmond-to-further-invest-in-bachar-houli-programs
www.theunshackled.net/rundown/malcolm-turnbull-announces-government-grant-for-bachar-houli-cup/

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12 Responses to Faith in Australia, and the Way Forward

  • “….you have to ask why Turnbull and other politicians are so supportive of it,…”

    Yep Bill – you really really do!

    You hear politicians saying ‘moderate Islam’, daily, even though no such ‘denomination’ exists — is the state now getting involved in promoting religion?
    If so, isn’t the state then better to promote ‘moderate Catholicism’ for example, given that the statistics show things like the RCC being the largest provider of education and healthcare in the world etc……the govt could even promote ‘moderate Mormonism’ or ‘moderate Jehovah Kingdom’ given the good work that both these institutions have done……

    In other words – promoting ‘moderate Islam’ is just an appeal to Muslims to be civilised as there is no ‘moderate Islam’ anything to be promoted – yet, so what the govt is actually promoting is their version of an ‘Islamic utopia’ — and they then wonder why voters are leaving the Liberals, the Republicans, the Tories, NZ’s National……

    God Bless Bill.

  • Clearly Australia needs an invasion – of the Holy Spirit, to use the words the Presbyterian James Stewart used to name his book about the 1904 Welsh revival. There may well be many who no longer fully relate to a “denominational religion”, whose records are noted in heaven, who long for such a saving and restoring outpouring of God by the Spirit, revealing the truth – Jesus Christ is King, Lord, now Presiding over the nations.

  • The latest census data shows that Australia has had an increase in the number of people saying they have ‘no religion.’ But, before the Atheists begin to crow and claim a victory, a few things need to be taken into account:

    1) No Religion does not equal Atheism. As Professor Rodney Stark has pointed out in his book, “The Triumph of Faith,” the term ‘religion’ is broad and undefined. In some cultures the term ‘religion’ simply means an organised belief such as Christianity or Islam. So someone who doesn’t subscribe to an organised religion, could happily tick ‘no religion’ even though they may be superstitious, or believe in some form of deity etc.

    2) Many well-meaning, but biblically ignorant Christians ticked, “no religion” because they have the mindset of Christianity is not a religion, but rather a relationship. I’ve personally met quite a number of people who took this mindset into the census.

    3) Numerous people will say they are not religious because they don’t attend a place of worship regularly. This does not mean they don’t believe in deity, or the spiritual realm, but rather they are equating religion with regular observance.

    Thus, based on the points raised above, this is not a victory for the Atheists, and the numerous headlines saying, “Australians are non-believers” is not factual. Instead, those who make such claims are interpreting the statement of ‘no religion’ to equate the belief that there is no god.

  • Many thanks Josh. Yes, all very good points indeed.

  • I have written to Malcolm Turnbull as follows….It has been brought to my attention that you have donated $625,000 of taxpayer money to the Houli Cup, an AFL Muslim cup.

    I find this quite astounding as the Muslims are at the forefront of terrorism in Australia and it is quite unwise of you to suggest to them that your OK with that as this donation has done.

    At the last census, Muslims claimed 2.6% of the population. Christians claimed 52% of the population so where is the money for a Gary Ablett cup? If 2.6% of the population deserve $625,000 and they are the cause of the terrorist attacks in Australia, how much should the Christian get who are 20 times the number and do not terrorize the people of Australia?

    I look forward to your response.

  • Thanks for this article Bill. Ironically a few weeks ago I was curious as to what Christianity population was for some countries and typed in Australia and needless to say there was a website which stated what you’ve stated, that its turning non religion and the website was quick to assert that it equals more Atheistic. But like some have stated, this doesn’t mean that. I love the fact that you mention China since I heard Christianity was growing there to the point where it could be one of the most Christian nations. Even though Christians do face massive persecution there as almost everyone else.

  • Back in the 2011 census, the way they classified No Religion was further subdivided into:
    No religion, nfd: 4,693,162
    Agnosticism: 34,633
    Atheism: 58,898
    Humanism: 7,662
    Rationalism: 2,433
    for a No Religion grand total of 4,796,786 then.

    The thing was specific Atheism was a rather small and separate category from other ‘no religion’ then. I don’t know if the 2016 census has it all broken down into this fine detail yet.

    https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/research/people-australia-2013-statistics.pdf , pp.53-54

    A previous report from last month already gave some details of the spiritual state of Australia:
    http://www.acl.org.au/report_faith_and_belief_in_australia_sheds_light_on_perceptions
    http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/faith-and-belief-in-australia

  • ‘We will not let the bullies on the left browbeat us into submission.’

    Speaking of intimidation:
    http://www.acl.org.au/we_need_your_help_to_defeat_bullying_and_intimidation

  • There needs to be a ‘like’ for button on here for Rev. Josh Williamson great comment. I like Rodney Stark and I have many of his books but not ‘City of God’. As Bill said Josh has made some great points. I think it was Australian MP Eric Abetz said that apparently more Australians still attend church/worship services each week than people going to watch the football.

  • Hi – I heard on the radio this morning that one of the reasons proffered for the increase in ‘no religion’ was the fact that it was the first option available. This is important as any politician is well aware. In the last Census it was placed last after the majors had been listed, then ‘Other’ and then no religion which diminishes the ‘increase’ even further.

  • “You mock the ‘damned Christians” but you can’t kill the truth.
    Burn down all our churches, send us back to the catacombs.
    Torture us; murder us; strengthen us even more.
    We see behind the blasphemy; you can’t shock us anymore” Defiance, The Lead.

    Mick Koster

  • Thanks Bill. One point to consider on the rationale of kowtowing to the Muslim in Australia is that there is this interesting combination of sympathy towards refugees (many of whom are Muslim), an exotic culture that the leftists are intrigued about (hence visiting mosques and cultural events) and a sense that they represent a much greater part of Australian society than the statistics show (because let’s face it, the 2.6% of the Muslim population is heavily concentrated in urban centres, and moreover in enclaves within those cities).

    So we have a dilemma of sympathetic leaders who refuse to see Muslims in any other light than positive and will not call out the effect Islam has on them. This is dangerous on two counts:

    1. It neglects the probability of man’s ill will towards humanity (terrorist activity at the hands of self-proclaimed Islamic adherents cannot be isolated incidents), and
    2. It neglects the blatantly obvious mandate on the Islamic adherent written explicitly to justify the adherent whenever a battle is waged against any infidel.

    The Muslim apologetic will dance around both of these issues like the rest of the world cannot appreciate the difference between truth and lies, but there is truth in the matter that western leaders are ignoring the elephant in the room because they are politically unfavourable to discuss. Thank God we have a new generation of leaders such as Cory Bernardi and Bernard Gaynor who are bold enough to call it what it is and not accept the status quo, which would end up with Australia just bowing down to a minority group that seeks its demise.

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