Why have the Presbyterians stopped breeding?


Now days it's hard to find a breeding pair of Presbyterians.

That memorable quote comes from Professor Gary Bouma of Monash University. He was commenting on the 2006 Australian census figures on religious adherence.

You can say the same thing about the breeding patterns of the Uniting Church and much of the Anglican church outside the Sydney diocese.

Mainline Protestantism in Australia, and the rest of the world, is an endangered species. The threat of institutional collapse follows hard upon the heels of institutional decline.

Bouma, a Melbourne Anglican, questions the health of the evangelical Sydney diocese. He points out that Melbourne Anglicans, who are different from Sydney Anglicans, declined by 9.1%, whereas in the same period of time, Sydney Anglicans declined by 10.5%.

That's true. Those who identify in a census as "cultural Anglicans" are declining just as fast in Sydney as in the rest of the country, or faster. In 1947 40% of the nation identified themselves as "Anglicans". Today that has fallen to 18.5%. The trend will continue: in Sydney and Melbourne and everywhere else.

But there is another trend. Between 1996-2001 regular church attendance in the Sydney diocese grew by 9% compared to a decline of 6% for the Anglican church outside of Sydney. As Sydney Anglicans are younger than other Anglicans, expect the gap to widen.

Commentators prefer to ignore the real reasons for the vitality of the Sydney diocese or to simply brand these Anglicans as fundamentalists. See: Why nobody likes the Sydney Anglicans.

It's not hard to find the reasons if you know what to look for and want to find it. You can start here.

New NCLS figures on Australian church attendance are due out sometime in the next twelve months. I'll predict the continued growth of the Sydney diocese and the continued decline of non-evangelical Anglicans and other mainline denominations.

In the meantime expect those Sydney Anglicans to keep on breeding. . .

AnglicanSydney Anglicans