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2007-06-28
Sydney, Australia
Australia still mainly Christian
Christianity remains the main religion in Australia, but Hinduism and Buddhism are growing at a greater rate.

Almost 12.7 million Australians declared they were Christian in the 2006 census, up from 12.6 million in 1996. But as a proportion of the population, Christianity fell from 71 per cent to 64 per cent.

In the same period, the number of people affiliated with non-Christian faiths almost doubled from 600,000 in 1996 to 1.1 million and now account for 5.6 per cent of the population.

Hinduism had the greatest growth, increasing 120 per cent to 148,000 people, while Buddhism grew 109 per cent to 418,800 people.

3,706,557 Australians - or 19 per cent - said they had no religion on Census night last year, which was 3 percentage points more than the 2001 figure of 2,905,993.

The make-up of Christianity is also changing.

Census figures show Australians are abandoning traditional Christian denominations and turning instead to evangelical churches.

The number of Australians affiliated with the Anglican, Uniting, Presbyterian and Reformed churches fell between 1996 and 2006.

In contrast, affiliation with the Pentecostal church grew 26 per cent, making it the fastest growing Christian denomination.

In NSW alone, Pentecostal churches grew 48 per cent.

Roman Catholic churches bucked the trend among traditional denominations, growing seven per cent over the 10-year period.

And Adelaide may be the city of churches, but fewer people are attending.

One quarter of South Australians said they were not affiliated with any religion, the largest proportion of any Australian state.

Almost half of all Hindus and Muslims live in Sydney, while almost half of all Jews live in Melbourne.

Sydney and Melbourne had similar numbers of Buddhists.

Source: Australian Associated Press (AAP), Australia's National News Agency
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