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Islam, Hinduism increasing; number of religious nones higher than Catholics
Australia is quickly turning less and less Christian and more Atheist each year. The number of Christians in Australia was over 88 percent fifty years ago. As per the latest census, only 52 percent of Australians are Christians today. Islam and Hinduism have made gains in the number of followers, while Australians with no religion have increased from 22.6 percent in 2011 to 29.6 percent in 2016.

When divided into religious denominations, the group with the highest percentage of respondents is “no religion”, followed by “Catholic.” However, when all the Christian denominations are added up, fully half of Australia is Christian at 52.1%.

There was some controversy regarding the option ‘no religion’ because emails were circulated and rumors were spread that with a majority of people indicating ‘no religion’, Australia would end up becoming a Muslim nation. Despite fears that Muslim population would grow phenomenally, the percentage of Muslims has only increased to 2.5 percent from 2.2 percent between 2011 and 2016.

The most interesting observation from the report is that for the first time in its history, the number of Australians who do not identify with any religion has surpassed the number of Catholics. The 30 percent Australians who do not identify with any religion have outpaced the 23 percent Catholics and 13 percent Anglicans. In 1966, only 0.8 percent Australians were unaffiliated to any religion.

Source: CNN

Source: CNN

Not being part of any religion does not necessarily mean that Australians no longer believe in God. it may only indicate that for many of them, religion and spirituality are a private matter and they prefer practicing it in privacy rather than as part of an institution. "It isn't anti-religious, it's just very plural. And the groups themselves are highly internally diverse," says Gary Bouma, professor emeritus of Sociology at Australia's Monash University, adding, "We're multicultural in every part of society. We've known that forever and it just has become more patently obvious in this census." Gary also believes that Australia may just be the only one nation in the world to have “three substantial religious communities other than a dominant group.”

Islam and Hinduism have made gains, while Buddhism has decreased. On the whole, Australia can still be called a religious nation with 60 percent of Australians having a religious affiliation. The growing number of people who refuse to be identified with any religion has a lot of significance for the country. Atheist groups are calling for politicians and the government to stop paying so much attention to religion and to start catering to the growing number of non-religious Australians by barring religion from affecting their legal and political decisions over issues such as gay marriage, abortion and so on.

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