Just over two years ago, I was motivated to write a piece about the decline of religion in the Anglophone world, which was, of course, mostly about Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Canada. It noted that in the 1966 Australian census only 0.8% of the population had ‘no religion’, but that had climbed to 30.1% in the last census (in 2016) for which results are available1. There was a census undertaken this year, but results for that will not be released until about the middle of 20222. The census is the final arbiter of such trends as it doesn’t so much rely on a sample of the population, but the whole population, so it will be interesting to see if the decline in religion in Australia is continuing. Other surveys indicate that it is.
While trying to obtain some data for a more recent essay, I stumbled across the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. This is an annual survey which began in 2001. The most recent edition was published in 2020 but contained data up to and including 20183, so it was a couple of years more recent than the 2016 census. That indicated the decline in religion was continuing, with about 40% of those in the 17,000 households surveyed claiming they had no religion4. The results of the next HILDA survey are due out soon, but they will only have data up to the end of 2019.
Earlier this year (March), the findings from a Roy Morgan survey were released. It is based on a fairly large sample of over 17,000 people, and the data comes from a survey conducted during 2020, so the data is more recent than that in the HILDA survey and it indicates that the proportion of Australians having no religion is still increasing. Roy Morgan data from this most recent survey indicate that this proportion is now at 45.5%5.
It will be interesting to watch the already panic-stricken religious mob redouble their efforts to hold onto their power and influence when and if the census confirms their slender majority is heading towards a minority.