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This topic has been updated with 2016 Census data for all areas. What's this?

In Australia, the number of non religious persons experienced the greatest change (+4,840,101) compared to non Christians and Christians in 2016.

Australia's religion statistics provide an indicator of cultural identity and ethnicity when observed in conjunction with other key variables. Religion data reveal the major concentrations of religions as well as revealing the proportion of people with no religious affiliation. There are a number of reasons for different religious compositions across areas including the country of birth and ethnic background of the population, the age of the population (belief in religion is generally stronger, the older the population) and changes in values and belief systems.

Australia's religion statistics should be analysed in conjunction with other ethnicity statistics such as Country of Birth data and Language Spoken data to assist in identifying specific cultural and ethnic groups.

Please note: Due to changes in ABS rules around perturbation and additivity of data to protect the confidentiality of individuals in 2016, counts of individual religion groups and totals derived from them may differ slightly from those published by the ABS. For more information see notes on data confidentiality.

Derived from the Census question:

'What is the person's religion?'

Total population

Religion - Ranked by size
Australia - Total persons (Usual residence)20161991Change
ReligionNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %1991 to 2016
Western (Roman) Catholic5,229,66722.322.64,591,78427.4--+637,883
Anglican3,101,18813.311.04,004,76123.9---903,573
Uniting Church870,1873.72.81,385,2008.3---515,013
Christian,nfd612,3652.62.7148,4150.9--+463,950
Islam604,2442.63.6146,6690.9--+457,575
Buddhism563,6722.43.2136,9590.8--+426,713
Presbyterian and Reformed526,6832.31.8727,3244.3---200,641
Hinduism440,2981.92.642,9660.3--+397,332
Greek Orthodox373,5941.62.2356,6252.1--+16,969
Baptist345,1451.51.5278,2691.7--+66,876
Pentecostal260,5621.11.1150,3430.9--+110,219
Lutheran174,0240.70.5248,7241.5---74,700
Sikhism125,9010.50.77,7500.0--+118,151
Other Protestant108,3090.50.531,8530.2--+76,456
Judaism91,0160.40.673,2830.4--+17,733
Jehova's Witnesses82,5130.40.374,6460.4--+7,867
Seventh Day Adventist62,9320.30.248,1620.3--+14,770
Latter Day Saints (Mormons)61,6420.30.338,0460.2--+23,596
Macedonian Orthodox49,6780.20.346,0830.3--+3,595
Salvation Army48,9520.20.272,3140.4---23,362
Serbian Orthodox41,0130.20.222,6540.1--+18,359
Churches of Christ39,6210.20.278,2010.5---38,580
Maronite Catholic36,4360.20.200.0--+36,436
Coptic Orthodox28,6380.10.29,7820.1--+18,856
Other Non-Christian Religions28,1610.10.214,3240.1--+13,837
Other Eastern Catholic25,7490.10.200.0--+25,749
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 1991 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Excludes religions with fewer than 20 adherents, or less than 0.1% of the total population.

Religion - Summary
Australia - Total persons (Usual residence)20161991Change
Religion totalsNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %1991 to 2016
Christian total12,202,59552.149.712,422,64174.1---220,046
Non Christian total1,922,3418.211.1439,3472.6--+1,482,994
Non-classifiable religious belief143,2580.60.649,0080.3--+94,250
No religion7,001,53229.929.92,161,43112.9--+4,840,101
Not stated2,132,1649.18.61,699,52910.1--+432,635

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 1991 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Religion, 2016
Religion, 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, Greater Capital Cities: 22.6% Anglican, Greater Capital Cities: 11.0% Uniting Church, Greater Capital Cities: 2.8% Christian,nfd, Greater Capital Cities: 2.7% Islam, Greater Capital Cities: 3.6% Buddhism, Greater Capital Cities: 3.2% Presbyterian and Reformed, Greater Capital Cities: 1.8% Hinduism, Greater Capital Cities: 2.6% Greek Orthodox, Greater Capital Cities: 2.2% Baptist, Greater Capital Cities: 1.5% Western (Roman) Catholic, Australia: 22.3% Anglican, Australia: 13.3% Uniting Church, Australia: 3.7% Christian,nfd, Australia: 2.6% Islam, Australia: 2.6% Buddhism, Australia: 2.4% Presbyterian and Reformed, Australia: 2.3% Hinduism, Australia: 1.9% Greek Orthodox, Australia: 1.6% Baptist, Australia: 1.5%
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.
Change in religion, 1991 to 2016
Change in religion, 1991 to 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, Australia: +637,883 Anglican, Australia: -903,573 Uniting Church, Australia: -515,013 Christian,nfd, Australia: +463,950 Islam, Australia: +457,575 Buddhism, Australia: +426,713 Presbyterian and Reformed, Australia: -200,641 Hinduism, Australia: +397,332 Greek Orthodox, Australia: +16,969 Baptist, Australia: +66,876
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 1991 and 2016 (Usual residence data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.

Dominant groups

Analysis of the religious affiliation of the population of Australia in 2016 compared to Greater Capital Cities shows that there was a lower proportion of people who professed a religion and a similar proportion who stated they had no religion.

Overall, 60.4% of the population nominated a religion, and 29.9% said they had no religion, compared with 60.9% and 29.9% respectively for Greater Capital Cities.

The largest single religion in Australia was Western (Roman) Catholic, with 22.3% of the population or 5,229,667 people as adherents.

The major differences between the religious affiliation for the population of Australia and Greater Capital Cities were:

  • A larger percentage who nominated Anglican (13.3% compared to 11.0%)
  • A smaller percentage who nominated Islam (2.6% compared to 3.6%)

Emerging groups

The largest changes in the religious affiliation of the population in Australia between 1991 and 2016 were for those who nominated:

  • Anglican (-903,573 persons)
  • Western (Roman) Catholic (+637,883 persons)
  • Uniting Church (-515,013 persons)
  • Christian,nfd (+463,950 persons)
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