The latest figures for the 2006 Australian census are out. Here's some highlights on religious identification:
Christianity remained the dominant religion in Australia, although non-Christian religions continued to grow at a much faster rate. Since 1996, the number of people reporting that they are Christian grew from around 12.6 million to 12.7 million, but as a proportion of the total population this number fell (from 71% to 64%).
Over the same period, those affiliated with non-Christian faiths increased from around 0.6 million to 1.1 million people, and collectively accounted for 5.6% of the total population in 2006 (up from 3.5% in 1996).
The most common Christian denominations continued to be Catholic (26%) and Anglican (19%). Since 1996, the number of Australians affiliated with the Catholic church grew by 7% to 5.1 million, while those affiliated with the Anglican faith decreased by 5% to 3.7 million. Other groups to decline were the Uniting Church (by 15% to 1.1 million) and the Presbyterian and Reformed churches (by 12% to 0.6 million). The fastest-growing Christian denomination was Pentecostal, increasing by 26% (to around 220,000).
Australia's three most common non-Christian religious affiliations were Buddhism (2.1% of the population), Islam (1.7%) and Hinduism (0.7%). Of these groups, Hinduism experienced the fastest proportional growth since 1996, more than doubling to 150,000, followed by Buddhism which doubled to 420,000.
Since 1996, the number of Australian residents who stated no religion increased from 2.9 million to 3.7 million (17% of all residents in 1996 and 19% in 2006). New South Wales had the smallest proportion of its population not affiliated with any religion (14%), and South Australia had the largest proportion (24%).
It's always interesting to see how the Press reports on these issues: