Australia Today

Australians Are Losing Faith In Jesus

But the country is more diverse than it’s ever been.
A man looking up at a cross
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

Australians have turned away from Christianity in droves over the last decade, according to the nation’s most recent census survey, which revealed that self-identifying Christians have come to account for less than 50 percent of the overall population for the first time ever. 

The figures arrived as part of the first 2021 census data dump released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, and showed that the number of Australians who identify as Christians have dropped from 52 percent of the population to just 44 percent. 


At the same time, the rate of Catholics plummeted to 20 percent from 23 percent, while Anglicans shrunk from 13 percent to 10 percent of the overall population. 

The number of people who identified as non-religious has also swelled, coming to account for 39 percent of the population, nearly 10 percent more than the 30 percent who opted out of worship in 2016 and just under double those who did in 2011.

Dr David Gruen, an Australian statistician, said the religion question has come to hold a “special place” in the national census, as it’s one of few that has been included in every single survey since its inception in 1911, and is the only question that’s voluntary.

“Despite being voluntary, we saw an increase in the proportion of people answering the question, from 91 per cent in 2016 to 93 per cent in 2021,” Dr Gruen said.

“Census religion data shows a characteristic of Australia that has changed significantly over the past two decades. Knowing about the religious affiliation across the population supports local planning for facilities, goods and services for Australians who identify as religious and helps them to live according to their beliefs.”

It’s just one of many markers that has come to illustrate the changing face—and values—of modern Australia.

Perhaps most markedly among them was the increase in those who said they had a parent who migrated to Australia from abroad, accounting for more than 48 percent of the total population. Adding to that is the quarter of the Australian population who said they were born elsewhere themselves. 


According to this first tranche of data, Australia has opened the door to more than 1 million migrants since 2017, of whom just under 220,000 people were from India. As a result, India has come to account for the third most dominant country of birth behind Australia and England among the nation’s population, outpacing New Zealand and China. 

The second largest increase to place of birth, according to the census, was Nepal, which added just under 70,000 people to the Australian population since 2016. That’s more than double what it was 5 years ago. 

Mehreen Faruqi, the deputy leader of the Greens and a senator for NSW, said policy makers should look to the census and begin considering an amendment to section 44, which as it stands constitutionally prevents dual citizens from running for government. 

“A clear majority of people in Australia are migrants or children of migrants. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at who runs things in this country,” Faruqi said. 

“In this context, it’s frankly absurd that the Constitution still excludes dual citizens from running for federal office.”

The Australian population isn’t just increasingly migrant, but is more diverse in the languages it speaks at home and in the religions it practices. 

Those speaking a different language to English at home, for instance, has ballooned by nearly 800,000 people, or another 3 percent of the total population, to 5.5 million people across the country. Just over 850,000 of them said they don’t speak English at home well, or at all. 


For those speaking another language at home, Mandarin is still the most common, spoken by about 700,000 Australians across the country. The second is Arabic, which is spoken by 367,000 people, and then Punjabi—which saw the highest increase from 2016.

While the Australian population’s uptake on anglo-celtic renditions of Jesus has been whittled down to unseen lows, other religions continue to grow, and account for a larger portion of the overall population—even if that total group is still proportionally small. 

The two religions to see some of the largest increases were Hinduism, which grew about 55 percent to 684,000 people, and Islam, which grew to 813,000 people. Together, they account for just under 6 percent of Australia’s overall population.

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