Religion in Australia

Australian church

Australia is well-known for a being a really diverse country, mainly thanks to the large amounts of 20th century immigration to the country. That being said, the over-riding religion in Australia is Christianity, with 61% of people affiliating themselves with the religion. Of course, this figure varies depending on where you are in the country: urban centres have a much more liberal and diverse feel than more rural areas. It should also be noted that, although 61% of people say they are Christian, the majority don’t attend church on a weekly basis.

When it comes to other religions, the population of Australia proves that it truly is a diverse one. There are large sections of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh people (with Buddhism being the second most popular religion in Australia), mainly found in large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Travellers to Australia with religious requirements in terms of food and drink will have no problems finding places that cater to their needs in larger towns and cities. This includes both kosher food and halal food.

Before any of the above religions appeared in Australia though, there were the Aboriginals. They are the original people of Australia and have religious beliefs all of their own. The Aboriginals hold animist beliefs, meaning that they believe that plants and animals, as well as the land itself, hold spiritual qualities. The Aboriginal spirituality is called the Dreaming, and it emphasizes how the people belong to the land. Dream spirits also play a major role in Aboriginal beliefs, with a couple of the major ones being the Rainbow Serpent and Yowie.

Unfortunately, the Aboriginal beliefs are now followed by just a tiny percentage of those living in Australia – the 2001 census showed the figure to be just 0.03% of the population. As with many other countries in the world (such as the USA), traditional beliefs have been surpassed by other religions, and now 72% of Aboriginal descendants list Christianity as their religion. Despite this, anyone coming to Australia on a gap year should make sure they spend some time learning about Aboriginal history and religion.

As already stated, Australia is a really diverse country, and this diversity has made it generally a very tolerant place to be. This means that you should run into no problems, regardless of your religion.

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