Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution – Origins and Future

Jocelynne A. Scutt

Abstract


The most recent Australian Census, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2016 (with a 95.1 per cent response rate), confirms that Australia is ‘increasingly a story of religious diversity, with Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Buddhism all increasingly common religious beliefs’.1 Of these, between 2006 and 2016 Hinduism shows the ‘most significant growth’, attributed to immigration from South East Asia, whilst Islam (2.6 per cent of the population) and Buddhism (2.4 per cent) were the most common religions reported next to Christianity, the latter ‘remaining the most common religion’ (52 per cent stating this as their belief). Nevertheless, Christianity is declining, dropping from 88 per cent in 1966 to 74 per cent in 1991, and thence to the 2016 figure. At the same time, nearly one-third of Australians (30 per cent) state they have no religion, this group reflecting ‘a trend for decades’ which, says the ABS, is ‘accelerating’

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