What are the fastest-growing religions in Australia.
Bud-dhism? Islam? Pentecostal Christian?
No. Think druids and pagans, witches, Scientology and
spiritualism. An analysis of the Census, compiled by Professor
Gary Bouma, from Monash Universi-ty's Centre for Population
and Urban Studies, found more than 30,000 Australians
identified with these New Age religions.
In one of the most urbanised nations on earth, nature-based
religions are "by far" the fastest-growing religions in
Between 1991 and 1996, these alternative beliefs attracted
17,000 new adherents.
"Paganism tripled. Nature and Earth-based religions grew
by 130 per cent. Satanism merely doubled its numbers,
and Scientology grew by 50 per cent," Professor Bouma
More Australians professed to be spiritualists (8,141)
than atheists (7,496). There were more Satanists (2,093)
than Scientologists (1,489). And, no doubt reflecting
the resurgence of Celtic identity, 556 people in Australia
identify themselves as Druids.
The Census figures also showed that Sydney was more "Christian"
than Melbourne (71.4 per cent compared with 66.1 per cent),
even though Sydney has higher percentages of non-Christians
(Hindus and Muslims).
About 600,000 Melburnians - but only 500,000 Sydneysiders
- said they had no religion.
Members of the Anglican Church are literally dying off
and it is challenged by a nation which no longer sees
itself as British, the report says. There are now only
40,000 more Anglicans than there were in 1966 and it is
predicted that by 2001, this once dominant reli-gion will
represent less than 20 per cent of the population. Catholics
"have an unbeatable lead", it says, with a growth of 550,000
Muslims and Buddhists are now among the 10 largest religious
groups in Australia: Catholic (27%), Anglican (22%), Uniting
(7.5%), Presbyteri-an/Reformed (3.8%), Orthodox (2.8%),
Baptist (1.66%), Lutheran (1.41%), Muslim (1.13%), Buddhist
(1.13%) and Pentecostal (0.98%).