NCLS Research

A question of beliefs

The nature of Australian spirituality can be explored from the viewpoint of religious beliefs. Most Australians believe in God. A large number accept conventional Christian beliefs such as life after death, the divinity of Jesus and the existence of the devil and of heaven. Many also believe in reincarnation, which has its origins in mainstream Eastern religion.

While most Australians believe in God, only a minority believe in a personal God. Around 35% believe in a personal God and 39% in a lifeforce of some sort. Some 9% feel there is no God, and 17% don't know. The fact that more Australians believe in God than attend church is also evident in the fact that while 20% attend church at least monthly, around 33% pray or meditate at least weekly, and 43% feel somewhat or extremely close to God.

There has been much discussion about the influence of alternative religion in contemporary Australian life. The ACS asked questions about practices such as reading horoscopes, participation in Eastern meditation and the use of crystals or psychic healing. Overall, such practices are not as widespread as many Christian religious practices. In the past twelve months, 18% of Australians often or occasionally sought direction from a horoscope, 9% practised Eastern meditation, and 7% used psychic healing or crystals.

There is obviously much more that could be said about Australian spirituality. What is clear from this cursory view is that, while only a minority of Australians have an active involvement in churches, most Australians hold religious beliefs of some kind.

Source: Build My Church, 1999.

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