Losing our religion? 409



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Our country was founded on religion and spirituality, that started with Aboriginals’ dream time stories and deep connection to the land, and continued to grow with settlements. As other cultures began to emigrate to Australia, they also brought their religions. Many of us have been brought up with deeply religious families and we attended church, Sunday School and other religious occasions. Fast forward to today and the religious landscape has completely changed.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1911, 10,000 people (0.4 per cent of the population) said they had no religion. 100 years later in 2011, 4.8 million people said they had no religion – that is 22 per cent of Australians. Then there’s those who say they are Catholic, Christian or Jedi (and so on) but don’t practice their beliefs, so realistically there could be more people who don’t truly have any religion at all. Surprisingly, the response ‘Catholic’ was only slightly higher than ‘no religion’, with 25 per cent of the population selecting it on the 2011 census.

It is fair to say that we are turning into a population of non-believers, with more and more younger people avoiding churches and deciding to announce themselves as agnostic or atheist. Roy Morgan research went as far to say that Christians are becoming a minority in Australia…so is it sad to see them go or is it just the way of the world?

There has been plenty of debate over the years about the necessity of religion in modern times, particularly with the rising popularity of public figures such as Richard Dawkins, who defies that God exists at all, and calls it the “God Delusion” in his book of the same name. Sales of The God Delusion are now upwards of 3 million, and it is a New York Times best seller.

In a recent article for TIME, Professor Dawkins said that teaching children about religion from a young age is wrong, and pushing beliefs on them is not right. This a stark contrast to everything we knew growing up – I was told about Jesus from the age of 3 and went to Catholic primary and secondary schools, as did many of our readers.

Professor Dawkins said, “Unlike national labels, religious labels carry a baggage of personal opinion. Catholics believe Jesus was born of a virgin mother who never died but was “assumed” bodily into heaven…It is high-handed and presumptuous to tie a metaphorical label around a tiny child’s neck stating, in effect, “this child believes Jesus rose from the dead”, as calmly as you might write “Blood Group AB.” At very least it negates the ideal, held dear by all decent educationists, that children should be taught to think for themselves”. Do you agree?

Does religion start at a young age and then peter out as we get older, or is it something we should hold on to? Is religion fundamental in our lives or is it the faith that is most important when you take everything else away? Some experts have shared their views on the rapid decrease of religion in Australia’s youth, with Monash University Professor Emeritus Gary Bouma saying “This is a matter of no longer it being culturally necessary to have a religion…These things are about saying you don’t have a religion, a lot of it is a rejection of institutions, a rejection of conformity. [Those who said they had no religion] might be very spiritual”.

Roy Morgan Industry Communications Director Norman Morris said that by Easter this year, it may be the first time that the majority of Australians don’t affiliate with Christianity. He said, “The decline…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”. He also suggested that factors that contribute to the fall of Christians in Australia could be because of conservativeness of religions that conflict with progressive attitudes towards abortion, same sex marriage and the use of condoms, among other things.


So what do you think? Are you religious? How long have you been affiliated with your religion? What is the cause of lack of faith? Should religion exist in 2015? Tell us below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I became a Sikh because I believe so strongly in what it teaches and the code of contact in Shi. Guru. Granth Sahib.and the teachings of the. Guru ‘s. Devinder Singh Khalsa xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

  2. Yes! And it’s a good thing. There are no gods, get used to it and live this life to the full because there is no afterlife.

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    • A pointless existence – how sad for you. That’s very depressing, I can’t begin to imagine how boring.

    • Very surprised by your comment. The complexity of humanity is just gone in a puff of smoke, certainly makes sense to me. Hope you find faith before your life ends.

    • Yep ” religion ” has a lot to answer for ! I prefer to be a follower of Jesus , His teachings and life give hope , peace and courage to many. His way is the way of love . Afterlife , I do pray many will come to faith in God before it is too late. Blessings to you all.

    • Jan, I’m with you, I don’t believe in the invisible man. What do you call a person who talks to themselves………Crazy………what do you call a group of people who talk to themselves…………A Church!…..all you god bothers are nuts and are non thinking illogical people.

    • I am an atheist, but I do respect others beliefs, I wish in some small way I had a belief but I don’t and I won’t. More so now we have Islam being thrown upon us and along with the evil that some of this faith produce. Religion is such a personal thing, like politics in a way, each to his own and try not to abuse those who believe differently.

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      • Florence Cook I’ve been saying this for years, I’ve never seen any proof that god exist but belief in god has slaughtered million’s possibly billions. All because people believe differently believe in what I believe in or I’ll kill you.
        I am an atheist, but I do respect others beliefs, I wish in some small way I had a belief but I don’t and I won’t. More so now we have Islam being thrown upon us and along with the evil that some of this faith produce. Religion is such a personal thing, like politics in a way, each to his own and try not to abuse those who believe differently.

    • It is there for everyone . It is written in the Living Bible .
      Ready and waiting for you to be enlightened and included.
      Or , in humble supplication through prayer. Consistent prayer.n

    • Florence Cook, I disagree with your opinion. I believe in God and an after life. But I think God can be many things to different people. Just a belief in a higher power helps sometimes I think to get us through the tough times.

      But, I’m impressed with the way you’ve presented your opinion. No nastiness, no hate no put down of others who have different beliefs to yours. That to me indicates that you are living your life the way any God would want you too. I would think you’re life is far more peaceful than that of people who feel the need to critisize you for being an atheist.

      Pope Francis recently said – you don’t have to go to church to believe in God. He’s right, God is within us, and how we treat each other is a good indication of how much we believe in God, or how God like we are. Florence I think you are a lot nicer than the judgemental, name calling people. That of course is just my opinion.

    • My religion means a great deal to me. Without it you have no purpose in life. Sadly Australia is going away from religion and it is starting to show with the violence that is happening to this once great Country

    • Faith and religion are not the same thing. Faith is what you can’t see, and religion is the dogma ( rules) that a person follows. I do believe religion is necessary, however there are horrendous things done in the name of religion. One can understand why so many who are turned away from religion, given the way it is used and the secrecy associated with it.

      I would agree with you Florence Cook that you can be a atheist and a good person. It is very challenging to have a discussion with some people on religion it can become so volatile . I did enjoy reading your opinion and respect it and Margaret’s response.

      I would be lost without my faith but religion does challenge me some times. I am horrified at the actions some people do in the name of religion and God. It’s not what God teaches, he teaches, love,peace and forgiveness.

      Thank God Faith and Religion are not the same thing.

      Enjoy reading the diffident opinions.

    • I’ve always been an atheist until about 10 years ago…all I know is that my life now is so much better than before. I don’t go to Church. But I’m often “talking” to God & asking for help with things that come up….I feel now that I’m never alone & I have so much more strength to face life & I’m no longer afraid of anything! I’ve found great peace & joy now! Life is great!!

    • I agree with you Margaret Peluso regarding the way Florence Cook expressed her opinion. Everyone has the right to their own views and whether we agree with it or not we should all respect that difference. I personally believe in the message of the bible, I believe in God, and I also believe that God gets blamed for what people do in the name of religion, that is my view and I don’t expect everyone to agree with it. Often people waste their words on rudeness and nastiness because they don’t have an educated grip on the subject to make an informed view either way. These people would be of negative character in all walks of life due to ignorance.

    • Spot on….and Hallelujah for a straight thinking person..the reason for living is with us every day we are alive….there is no afterlife….and the concept of a god or many gods is as weird and misleading as santa and the tooth fairy….thank goodness I woke up….lololol…and yes life is good…and no I’m not scared of dying and my life has been meaningful and fun. ..my afterlife is my grandchildren…….

    • Jan you seem like a very knowledgable person. You know all this for a fact? Would you like to share with us how you came to this conclusion?

    • Remember Florence that crimes committed by Muslim extremists are just that. Crimes! ISIS is a good example. The everyday Muslim does not agree with there methods or beliefs. Thy don’t condone violence! It is evil, sadistic men, who has no regards for anyone but themselves who commit these atrocities! They say it is for Mohomhed

    • I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no after life! Now if you said there was NO heaven, paradise what ever would be closer to the truth! Afterlife definitely exsists

      1 REPLY
      • Florence Cook I’ve been saying this for years, I’ve never seen any proof that god exist but belief in god has slaughtered million’s possibly billions. All because people believe differently believe in what I believe in or I’ll kill you.
        I am an atheist, but I do respect others beliefs, I wish in some small way I had a belief but I don’t and I won’t. More so now we have Islam being thrown upon us and along with the evil that some of this faith produce. Religion is such a personal thing, like politics in a way, each to his own and try not to abuse those who believe differently.

    • When you are dead you are dead.No one has came back and told me how good it is when they have died and that they are enjoying their afterlife.

    • No-one has to get used to it, Jan. That is your belief and you are fully entitled to it, but others are equally entitled to their beliefs.

  3. I come from an area that was established because of copper, if a miner and his family did not attend church on Sunday he was sacked. I am sure a lot of people put down a religion without any true belief as I suspect do many people now. The New Testament is not based on Jesus teachings, but on a small selection of teachings, where the message did not support the view of the early church they were excluded. I don’t disbelieve in God but I don’t believe in churches. Catholic priests after all don’t marry, not for any religious reason but because in the early church it was judged that the wealth of the church was being reduced by family inheritance. No wife equalled no legitimate children to take from the estate of a dead priest. Today’s young are much more critical of any message being put out and in societies like ours they have become less accepting of any message that can’t be proven.

  4. I’m atheist. In army you went to church on Sunday or did hard labour usually latrine work so off of to church instead. As a kid every Sunday sometime twice morn and evening til the hypocrisy was discovered. And if there is a all powerful God. Pretty much does nothing about so much wrong! We need to teach ethics and critical thinking instead of religious instruction.

    8 REPLY
    • So many wars because of religion! Where is love, forgiveness, tolerance! So much wrong done in the name of religion.

    • God did do something , He gave us Jesus who bought us back at the price of his blood . For now because of sin there is a war going on in the spiritual but Jesus because of His great love for us will return and destroy the works of satan and all his cruelty forever . Death does not have the last word God does and He made a way for all to be restored to Him once again for eternity through His Son Jesus for all who receive Him ❤️ I think people forget that we have an enemy and he tried to kill steal and destroy lives and blame it all on God. And many disasters happen because people make wrong choices and also try to blame God for them . Because of Gods great love for us He gave us free choice , we can choose many things including loving Him or denying Him . I choose Christ because I know the joy that awaits me far outweighs any temporary earthly trial ❤️. And yes I do love my church family and look forward to meeting with them and worshipping together xx

    • Trouble is, most of what is wrong in the world is what man/woman brings upon himself,then blames God and then man/ woman expects God to fix up his/her mess of wrong doing.
      Just saying….

    • I think you have it all wrong Kerry. God does not start wars. It is stupid sick people who try to blame religion for starting wars. War is started because they cannot get their own way. People get brain washed by so called believers of God These people are the problem not God. For all your troubles you are the one who created them not God. People always want to blame other people when their life is not going the way they want it to go. It sounds like when you were in army you were lazy. You went to church instead of working. If you believed you were a true atheist you would have done the hard work

    • Wendy Biden I would have done/ would do the labour. It’s a statement. They gave you the dirtiest hardest job to force you to church. Plenty men did do it instead of church. I doubt it’s still in practice.
      Well if God is all powerful then why doesn’t it fix humans greed hate etc. So they don’t cause all this hell.
      God created the people by religions say so why such flawed beings.

  5. In my case the older I got the more I could see the hipocracy of the church, so I have cut out the middle men and just talk to the “boss”.

    13 REPLY
  6. I was born in Scotland as a Roman Catholic. The teachings of Jesus was ruined by the behavior of priests. I no longer go to church but I do believe in myself and I do pray. I have had all my prayers answered. There have been many healings in my life. You do not need a church to trust, love and have a wonderful life

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    • I believe in God, I have a great Faith in God. I trust in God. God believes in me. God is my creator. God listens to my prayer, maybe not the way I want him to sometimes but I know he is there. If you don’t believe in God, I feel sure God believes in YOU. No matter what anybody els says.
      Don’t blame God for what is happening in this world, God created people with a mind of their own, some people choose to be evil. But God is forgiving no matter what you do.
      This is in my heart, and I don’t have to answer to anybody els.

    • One can’t blame the actions of a few priests, for all the good ones. We all are human, and unfortunately for the evil of these priests, who were sick hypocrites, who broke all the vows, they took. It does not stop me going to church. My religion is between me and God, the priest helps us by celebrating mass for all of us,to join in.

    • Yes, Halina Ritchie, your choices in life are your own. I guess Molly Holland was just explaining the role of priests and why she continues to go to church.

    • Through time religion has caused So much pain and suffering.. Everyone believing in their own gods.. You don’t have to go to church to believe.. God is in you.. The Catholic Church is purely a business… I feel very sad..

  7. Stopped when I was 20 after a car accident, friend died. Only thing the local priest was worried about was that the collections from my parents had stopped as they were seeing me in hospital every Sunday. I probably can best describe myself these day as an agnostic theist.

  8. It’s really sad to me that when people get disallusioned with the church that they blame God. They are only men who as all of us are sinners. Sad too that they put themselves in place of God and pass their own ideas off as Gods. I’m a believer because I had my own experience with God before I ever attended a church. It seems to me that without a saviour to believe in we had no plumb line so anything goes

    2 REPLY
    • Surely your god made man as a direct image of himself, therefore he must be as every criminal, pedaphile , murderer that exists in the world.

  9. Sadly the church as the world sees it (all man made denominations) have a lot to answer for, they have been a poor representation of Christ and His message. The real church is not about religion, it’s about personal relationship with Him and you don’t need a church gathering for that. The true church as described in the bible is not a denomination, it’s believers and those who have a relationship with Jesus across all denominations worldwide. While you don’t need to necessarily go to church you do need to “coming together” of believers for fellowship, teaching, spiritual growth and communal worship. However, and above all else it’s all about a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP.

  10. I enjoy going to church on a Sunday morning. 8am is for my age group. We have a fantastic church family who support each other in many ways. Having the Lord in my life is special, something that other Christians would understand!!!

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    • Yes Diane love God and going to church. It is like a family! Could not imagine not having God in my life as I made a commitment to Him when I was 16. We need the Lord today more than ever because of the way the world is.

  11. Religion seems to be the cause of a lot of trouble in the world. If Buddhism were the worldwide philosophy, the world would be a better place!

    3 REPLY
    • In Thailand some Buddhist monks were murders and rapists,that’s why they are not allowed to touch woman. Instead of gaol they turn into monks….not a bad idea!

  12. I’ve found mine, not religion but a relationship with God

    3 REPLY
    • Alice….I became a christian 32 years ago and when my mother told one of my brothers, his first words were “what did she screw the minister behind the door?”….no, I didn’t have to do anything to get through that door, but repent of my sins to God, who merciifully sent Jesus Christ, His only beloved son, to die for me and you anyone else who realises our need for His father love..we can have a relationship with Him, which is far greater than our relationships with our human parents and priests, and ministers, and pastors and those around us, because He has the wisdom we don’t have. People expect perfection, God doesn’t, because He knows we are not perfect. Forget about the Priests etc,…they are just men like the rest of us.

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