Back To Listing

Christians in Australia nearing minority status as religious affiliation declines sharply since 2011

Source: Roy Morgan Research, January 2009 to December 2013, rolling quarters.
Average quarterly sample n = 4840 Australians aged 14+

Easter Sunday may celebrate Christ rising, but the proportion of Australians who identify as Christian is falling fast, down over 8% points in the last two years. If the current downward trend were to continue, Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.

In late 2011, Christians outnumbered the non-religious by over two to one: 60.9% of Australians 14+ (11.4 million) said they belonged to a Christian denomination compared with 29.2% (5.5 million) who said they had no religious affiliation—each near their respective proportional averages since 2009.

But in the latest quarter October to December 2013, 52.6% of Australians (10.2 million) are Christian, while 37.6% (7.3 million) have no religion—halving the gap to 15% points.

Proportion of Australians 14+ who say they are a Christian denomination or No Religion

Source: Roy Morgan Research, January 2009 to December 2013, rolling quarters. 
Average quarterly sample n =
4840 Australians aged 14+

If the recent trend continues, fewer than 50% of Australians may be self-identifying as Christian by this time next year.   

Another 8.3% of Australians (1.6 million) currently identify with a non-Christian religion, only slightly above the long-term average of 7.6% since 2009. A small percentage of Australians (<2% each quarter) opt not to reveal any religious affiliation.  

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director – Roy Morgan Research, says:

"By Easter next year, it could well be the first time that the majority of Australians don’t affiliate with Christianity.

"These results are not necessarily about belief, per se, but rather our changing attitudes to religious affiliation. The decline in the proportion of Australians who say they are Christian—whether Catholic, Anglican or another denomination—coupled with a similarly sized increase in the number who tell us they have no religion, could reflect a growing level of genuine atheism or agnosticism, or instead simply a shift away from identifying with organised Christianity, despite ongoing theistic faith. Likely, it is a combination of both.

"Either way, many factors could be contributing to the fall in the number of Christian adherents in Australia. For example, some morally conservative religious doctrines may be contrasting with progressive attitudes toward personal issues such as abortion, societal issues such as same-sex marriage, and global issues such as the use of condoms in the fight against the HIV pandemic.

"The recent trend also coincides with the public pressure for, launch of and media attention given to the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse which has, as one focus, alleged crimes by religiously affiliated personnel and cover-ups by church organisations.”

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

 

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2