The photo above symbolises the awe-inspiring nature of what science can explain and the reason I write this post. The beautiful contrast of colour against the black background inspires me to shine in times or darkness…. but lets see.
Given the latest rush on religious flavours and fervour spurred on by dubious MSM and political persuasions I have been very irritated. I know there are many of us out there who, while having more than a passing interest in what people believe, and who consider spiritual paths that may help us towards more enlightened viewpoints, harbour little or no religious affinity.
I just read a post: The Rise (or Return?) of the Post-Secularists (see here) about an article published in the American Sociological review based on data from the General Social Survey of American households and their attitudes towards religion and science as well as questions about their familiarity with both.
I also heard an ABC radio program this morning where they discussed recently funded efforts by our illustrious leader to fill Australian children with religion, where an Anglican minister ticked all the ‘post secular’ boxes mentioned in the above post. He superficially blended and blurred religion and science in a hybrid view that the writer of the blogpost called ‘a patchwork world view that is comfortable’ and ‘intellectually dishonest’. Very neo-lib really.
Current questions in Australia around replacing social workers or welfare officers in schools with ‘pastoral care’ workers and dubious religious instructors is concerning as is the constantly repeated statement from our government that we ‘share the values of the US’. They obviously feel the pressure of the rising tide of ‘no religion’ in this country alongside their fear of the ‘other’ that is Islam. (despite Abbott’s repeated mantra that his ‘death cult’ label bears no resemblance to Islam, Muslims still scare his Opus Dei pants off.)
I decided to check some stats at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The question on religion included in all Australian Censuses is optional.
ABS reports The non-response rate was 8.6% in 2011 (11.2% in 2006). The recorded total population in the 2011 census was 21,507,700 people.
The 2011 Census used the question on religion among others listed below to “provide a picture of Australia’s cultural profile”.
- In which country was the person born?
- Was the person’s father born in Australia or overseas?
- Was the person’s mother born in Australia or overseas?
- If born overseas – what year did the person first arrive in Australia to live here for one year or more?
- What is the person’s ancestry? (Provide up to two ancestries only).
- Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
- Does the person speak a language other than English at home?
- How well does the person speak English?
- What is the person’s religion?
Of the 91.4% who answered this question, 61% of people identified as Christian, 23% of them born overseas. That’s 13, 150,600 of us.
The ‘type’ of Christianity shows 86% identify as Catholic or Protestant. (% rounded)
Those who identified a religion other than Christianity including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, and ‘other’ non Christian faiths (I am sure some of those include Jedi!) Make up around 0.8% of our total population, 1,546,300 people. (Interesting that the term Islamism was not used, maybe next time!)
The largest cohort is the Buddhists at 2.5% (69% born overseas). Islam, 2.2% (62% born overseas) Hindu 1.3% (84% born overseas) Judaism 0.5% (49% born overseas) and ‘other’ 0.8% (57.2% born overseas). Hinduism experienced the fastest growth since 2001, increasing by 189% to 275,500, followed by Islam (increased by 69% to 476,300) and Buddhism (increased by 48% to 529,000 people).
The most interesting category ‘No Religion’ is 22.3% (22.5% born overseas). That’s 4,796,800 people from the 2011 stats population of 21,507,700 (total includes includes atheism agnosticism and what ABS describe as ‘inadequately described religions and people who did not state a religion”.)
An article on the ABS site Cultural Diversity in Australia – reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features902012-2013 provides;
Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people reporting a non-Christian faith increased considerably, from around 0.9 million to 1.5 million, accounting for 7.2% of the total population in 2011 (up from 4.9% in 2001)……….. The number of people reporting ‘No Religion’ also increased more strongly, from 15% of the population in 2001 to 22% in 2011. This is most evident amongst younger people, with 28% of people aged 15-34 reporting they had no religious affiliation. (my emphasis)…….
Another observation from the same article states;
Recent arrivals were less likely than longer-standing migrants to report an affiliation to Catholicism (18% and 26% respectively) and Anglicanism (7% and 13% respectively). In contrast, a higher proportion of recent arrivals reported Hinduism (10.0% compared to 3.0%), Islam (8.4% compared to 4.7%) and Buddhism (7.7% compared to 6.6%). These differences reflect the larger number of new arrivals from non-European countries. New arrivals were also more likely than longer-standing migrants to report ‘No Religion’ (24% compared to 19%).
Given we are told by our successive governments (since we shed shackles from the British Empire merely to replace them with those of the US Empire) tell us “we share the same values with the US.” what is the situation there?
Interestingly the US census site states;
“Public Law 94-521 prohibits us from asking a question on religious affiliation on a mandatory basis; therefore, the Bureau of the Census is not the source for information on religion.”
But with a topic so high on the agenda you can bet that this is not a secret to the US government authorities. So what can we find out?
Around 320,289,000 people currently live in the US. In 2008 there were 228,182,000 estimated adults in the population. A document titled “Self-Described Religious Identification of Adult Population” on the census site provides the following 2008 information on this estimated adult population. The data includes the proviso that,
“figures are based on projections from surveys conducted on the mainland states. Because of the subjective nature of replies to open-ended questions, these categories are the most unstable as they do not refer to clearly identifiable denominations as much as underlying feelings about religion. Thus they may be the most subject to fluctuation overtime. Estimates for subpopulations smaller than 75,000 adults are aggregated to minimize sampling errors.”
178,342,000 people identified as Christian from so many denominations I will not bother listing them. That’s 78% (again I have rounded my percentages)
2,680,000 identified as Jewish (1.2%) It must be said this appears to in terms of following Judaism.
1,349,000 identified as Muslim (0.6%)
1,189.000 as Buddhist (0.5%)
582,000 as Hindu (0.3%)
34,169,000 No religion specified (includes Athiests, agnostics, humanists and ‘other’) (15%)
11,815,000 refused to answer the question. (5.2%)
Comparative Australian US statistics on responses;
|RELIGION||AUSTRALIA (2011)||USA (2008)|
Discrepancies in totals not being 100% explained by alternative religions, rounding up or down the figures to decimal points.
Some significant points about the figures from Australia. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features30Nov+2013
- People who had studied Physics and Astronomy had the highest rates of reporting no religion (46%), and people who had studied Philosophy and Religious Studies had the lowest rates (9%).
- People who studied creative arts (37%) and sciences (36%) were the most likely to report no religion, while those who had studied education (21%) or health (22%) were the least likely.
Trend over time
- From 1971, reporting no religion has increased at an average of 3.9 percentage points per decade, with the sharpest increase (6.8 percentage points) between 2001 and 2011.
- Younger people make up a high proportion of those reporting no religion (around half who did so being less than 30 years old).
- Older people in Australia are considerably more likely than younger Australians to report a religion: only 10% of people aged 65 years and over reported no religion in 2011
- When there was a difference between what was reported for children and their parents, it was more evident in families where a child reported no religion but neither of their parents did
- Around the age of 15, rates of reporting no religion start rising, reaching their highest point between the ages of 22 and 24.
- Rates of reporting no religion were not particularly affected by whether someone lived in a major city or regional or remote Australia, however people living in very remote areas were less likely to report no religion (19% compared with 22% on average for the rest of Australia
Place of birth
- Australians born in China had the highest rates of reporting no religion (63%), followed by those born in Japan (53%) and Macau (45%).
- Of people aged 15 years and over in couple relationships, those with no religion were more likely to be in a de facto relationship (29%) than those who reported a religion (12%).
- People in same sex-couples were just as likely to report a religion as not (47% reporting a religion, and 48% reporting no religion).
It would seem in Australia increasing numbers of people identify as having no religion. Nearly 1 in 4 of us. Around half of these being under 30. The numbers of people identifying as ‘Christian’ has declined from 95% in 1911 to 68% in 2011 while the proportion of Australians in non-Christian religions continues to rise.
Australia is not alone in the trend towards no religion.
- New Zealand’s latest Census data showed a rise from 30% in 2001 to 35% in 2006
- England and Wales went from 15% in 2001 to 25% in 2011
- Canadian rates rose from 16% to 24% over the same time.
- Ireland’s 2011 census shows people who identify as having no religion are now 2nd largest grouping behind Catholics, with the number increasing more than four-fold since 1991 to 6%
- While the US do not include religion in their Census, the General Social Survey shows the rate of American adults reporting no religion to be 20% in 2012 compared with 14% in 2000. (see also http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/03/12/non-believers/ )
I now feel more vindicated in my thoughts about increasing numbers of ‘non-believers’.
- The 1 in 4 get little say in this country, particularly on policy direction.
- We didn’t vote for a religion although neo-conservatism is steeped in it.
- The values held here are not necessarily the same as those across the Pacific (we just need a big brother now mother is dying and so so far away). An obvious one is that of the right to bear arms…..which I would think is fairly significant.
I’m tired of hearing about how we should respect people’s religion (which really means don’t ask questions or debate), when the same respect is not held nor supported towards my godless belief (thankfully on the increase through the growing number of young educated people and people who couldn’t care less).