Christianity on the wane in Australia, but Pentecostal church bucks trend
Source: The Guardian
By Elle Hunt
As the number of Australians who identify as Christian has declined since 2011, one church has notably bucked the trend.
Members of the Pentecostal church increased from nearly 220,000 in 2006 and 238,000 in 2011 to 260,500 last year, according to the 2016 census results released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.
It has grown particularly among young people, with increases in the 0-14 (the largest share of affiliates), 15-24 and 25-34 age profiles recorded in each census from 2006.
Associate professor Ann Evans of the Australian National University’s school of demography, said the rise, while not huge, was notable.
But across all denominations, the total number of self-identified Christians has fallen from 13.1m (61%) to 12.2m (52%) in the past five years, with nearly 600,000 fewer Anglicans and nearly 147,500 fewer Catholics reported in 2016 compared with 2011. In the 1911 census, 96% of Australians recorded themselves as Christian.
Last year’s census paints a picture of an Australia that is simultaneously less religious and more religiously diverse, in part because of increased migration from non-European countries.
For the first time, the number of people who identified as secular (30%) eclipsed the number who identified as any particular religion. The proportion of Catholics fell to 23% (from 25.3% in 2011), though Catholicism remained the largest religious affiliation at nearly 5.3m people.
Just over 8% of the population identified as having a religion other than Christianity, up from 7.2% in 2011, with 2.6% Muslim, 2.4% Buddhist and 1.9% Hindu. Islam has overtaken Buddhism since the 2011 census.