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Australia is not “God’s own country”

5 July 2008

International Religion Monitor registers Australia as one of the world’s least religious countries – But religion is not a dying philosophy of life – Australian Catholics are not the country’s most devout Christians

When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Australia for the first time for World Youth Day this week, he will be descending on one of the least religious nations in the western world. Although two-thirds of Australians identify themselves as Christians, religion plays an important role in the minds and everyday lives of only a minority according to the Religion Monitor, an international survey carried out by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Europe´s biggest operating foundation. The Religion Monitor is the most extensive and detailed international comparative study on the significance of religion in the main cultures of the world.
AustraliaHat-tip to Matt Stone for this one.

The survey seems to cover a number of countries, though South Africa isn’t included, apparently — or perhaps they don’t have enough data to make a comparison. One of the things you can do on the site is check your own “religious profile” against others in your country, but though that seems to work for Asutralians, it doesn’t work for South Africans. Perhaps if enough South Africans participate, there will be enough data for a comparison to be made one day, though it would be skewed if it only showed people with acess to the Internet.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 July 2008 11:41 am

    Religion in Australia is a peculiar beastie. Never underestimate the evangelical nature of secularism in this country. Two classic instances in modern times are the Chamberlain matter (in which a Seventh Day Adventist Minister and his wife became central figures of a nation-wide rumour mongering campaign) and the resignation of an Anglican Archbishop who became Governor-General. Now each of the central figures in both cases made some contribution to what befell them but there to fan the flames into quite outrageous proportions was strident secularism. Conversely, we have seen both sides of politics buttering up the religious powers-that-be from the Catholic end of the spectrum right through to the Pentecostal and Exclusive Brethren end. As for Mr and Mrs Joe Blow – well some of them have gone to American brands of religion and some of them are as irreligious as ever. Catholics, even the lapsed, still send Catholic children to Catholic schools. Aspirational voters are increasingly sending their children to private schools, a large number of which are religious. But what does religion in a nation mean? In the USA, from what I can gather, there is no Public Holiday for Good Friday as there is here. Now we love the Easter long week end (four or five days depending) as its the last go for camping and the beach before winter but Easter services still attract large numbers. And commercialism notwithstanding, family services do attract parents who want to keep their children in touch with the true spirit of Christmas. So the story is mixed – which means, don’t write Australia off or out just yet.

  2. 16 July 2008 10:31 pm

    Actually, Canada (in my limited, 19 month experience) is much the same – that is, it is closer to the Australian situation than to the US one.

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