The latest census results have revealed Australians seem to be leaving their faith behind and for the first time, more citizens ticked the ‘no religion’ than identified as Catholic. With around one-third of Australians stating in the 2016 census that they have no religion, the importance of faith in Australia appears to be dwindling.
So what does this mean for Australia?
The census hasn’t just shown a drop in the number of people identifying as religious – it has shown a very fast drop. Just 52 per cent of Australians identified as Christians in 2016, comparison to the 74 per cent in 1991.
Younger Australians are less religious according to the census. In 2016, nearly 40 per cent of younger adults aged between 18-35 ticked the no religion box – compared with just 16 per cent of the over 65 year olds. Does this mean that Australia is on its way to becoming a largely agnostic society in next 50 years?
Certainly religious services on a Sunday are packed with over 65’s while those in 18-35 age bracket are seldom seen. The drop in religious practice is being swapped for other trends like Sunday brunching or hanging yoga. We asked if young people start to turn away from the faith of their parents during their student years.
Colin Spackman, from the Monash Clayton Christian Union, thinks this is not necessarily the case.
Monash’s Clayton campus is home to around 24,000 students – of them 180 are registered to the Monash Clayton Christian Union. It isn’t an enormous proportion of the student body – but interestingly it is a Christian Union which is growing. Around 120 students actively participate in weekly club events – up from 90 students last year.
“I think it’s really important for students to have the freedom to be able to gather in their religious groups, express their various religious beliefs and to be able to talk to others about their religious beliefs.”
Mr Spackman believes “that increasingly the greater community doesn’t want a lot to do with Christian values, which is their call, but I think there are some really great values that are core to Christianity that the wider community can learn from.”
“I think our society, especially at University, is living really selfishly; for their own wants, for their careers and for their goals.”
But he believes there is a desire for some sort of spirituality in most people. “I think having faith is important for society because it is an important part of what it means to be human,” Mr Spackman said.