Millennial faith sinks

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Young Catholic adults from across Sydney enjoyed Mass, a meal and the launch of the exciting new mission pathway which will see Sydney Catholic Youth increasing its collaboration with other agencies. Photos: Alphonsus Fok

Fewer than one third of all Millennials (25-39 years old) identify as Christian, according to a further breakdown of religious census data according to age, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Millennials are the least likely to affiliate with Christianity, at a rate of 30.6 per cent, or with religion in general, at a mere 45.5 per cent.

And they are only twice as likely to be Christians of any denomination as adherents of another religion, despite the small size of minority faiths.

This fact was represented in data on the median age of non-Christian religions like Hinduism (31 years), Sikhism (30) and Islam (28) and No Religion (33).

“A separate batch of poll data … found that only a minority of voters believe religious Australians suffer discrimination.”

The ABS religion breakdown stated that the average age of Christian affiliation in Australia was 47 years old, with Anglicans topping the pack at an average of 56 years.

The decline in Anglican affiliation was one of the major stories of the 2021 Census, with the Church of England losing nearly one in five of its members since 2016, a total loss of over 600,000, bringing its overall share of the population to a mere 9.8 per cent.

A separate batch of poll data, from the 2022 Australian Cooperative Election Study (ACES) conducted by YouGov and various Australian universities, found that only a minority of voters believe religious Australians suffer discrimination.

Only 27 per cent of those polled agreed that “Australians who hold religious beliefs face a lot of discrimination”.

Forty-two percent had a neutral view, and 31 per cent disagreed, according to an initial report on the data – not yet made available – published in The Conversation.

A majority of respondents (67 per cent) disagreed that “religious schools should be able to refuse to employ staff based on their sexual orientation”, the report stated, with similar figures for refusal to employ on the basis of transgender identity.

But most Australians do not believe politics is “too focused on the rights of religious people”, with only 39 per cent agreeing and 61 per cent either disagreeing or giving a neutral view.

“Our new data reinforce the extent of voter resistance to aspects of the ‘religious freedoms’ agenda in the lead-up to the election,” the authors of The Conversation’s report, three academics from Macquarie University, wrote.

“Clearly the Church does not hold the privileged position in our society that it once had. In such a situation, my firm conviction is that we should follow the advice given by Pope Benedict and reiterated by Pope Francis.”

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said faith was a gift that could not be forced on people.

“It is almost a cliché to say that the values of the Church and the values of the society in which we live are growing further and further apart,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“Clearly the Church does not hold the privileged position in our society that it once had. In such a situation, my firm conviction is that we should follow the advice given by Pope Benedict (and, I think, by John Paul II before him) and reiterated by Pope Francis.

“We should endlessly propose but never impose our beliefs on others.”