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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 (+3,928,602) 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 (Enumerated)20161996Change
ReligionNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %1996 to 2016
Western (Roman) Catholic5,229,64922.322.74,966,58626.928.2+263,063
Uniting Church870,1933.72.81,381,4247.56.1-511,231
Presbyterian and Reformed526,6912.31.8706,1383.83.1-179,447
Greek Orthodox373,5941.62.2367,8312.03.0+5,763
Other Protestant108,3130.50.551,9490.30.3+56,364
Jehova's Witnesses82,4990.40.386,9950.50.4-4,496
Seventh Day Adventist62,9480.30.254,2070.30.3+8,741
Latter Day Saints (Mormons)61,6280.30.346,9110.30.3+14,717
Macedonian Orthodox49,6900.20.353,5370.30.4-3,847
Salvation Army48,9440.20.276,5200.40.3-27,576
Serbian Orthodox41,0180.20.232,9850.20.2+8,033
Churches of Christ39,6120.20.277,6500.40.4-38,038
Maronite Catholic36,4410.20.214,1850.10.1+22,256
Coptic Orthodox28,6360.10.214,8590.10.1+13,777
Other Non-Christian Religions28,1580.10.215,0170.10.1+13,141
Other Eastern Catholic25,7530.10.26,7000.00.1+19,053
Russian Orthodox21,9580.10.115,7260.10.1+6,232
Other Christian21,4350.10.123,9460.10.1-2,511
Other Eastern Orthodox16,5430.10.136,7400.20.3-20,197
Other Oriental Orthodox14,3400.10.12,1520.00.0+12,188
Assyrian Apostolic13,8660.10.16,2470.00.1+7,619
Chinese and Japanese Religions8,1590.00.06,0790.00.0+2,080
Australian Aboriginal Traditional Religions8,0830.00.07,3470.00.0+736
Armenian Apostolic8,0190.00.18,3080.00.1-289
Other Nature Religions6,8720.00.04,0510.00.0+2,821
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 1996 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 (Enumerated)20161996Change
Religion totalsNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %1996 to 2016
Christian total12,202,57552.149.713,075,90770.968.9-873,332
Non Christian total1,922,3458.211.2630,0453.44.9+1,292,300
Non-classifiable religious belief143,2620.60.658,6400.30.3+84,622
No religion7,001,52829.929.93,072,92616.717.3+3,928,602
Not stated2,132,1779.18.61,614,1938.78.6+517,984

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 1996 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Religion, 2016
Religion, 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, Greater Capital Cities: 22.7% Anglican, Greater Capital Cities: 11.0% Uniting Church, Greater Capital Cities: 2.8% Christian,nfd, Greater Capital Cities: 2.7% Islam, Greater Capital Cities: 3.7% 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 (Enumerated data)
Compiled and presented in by .id, the population experts.
Change in religion, 1996 to 2016
Change in religion, 1996 to 2016 Western (Roman) Catholic, Australia: +263,063 Anglican, Australia: -967,638 Uniting Church, Australia: -511,231 Christian,nfd, Australia: +417,384 Islam, Australia: +400,483 Buddhism, Australia: +358,678 Presbyterian and Reformed, Australia: -179,447 Hinduism, Australia: +370,606 Greek Orthodox, Australia: +5,763 Baptist, Australia: +40,155
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 1996 and 2016 (Enumerated data)
Compiled and presented in 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 5,229,649 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 3.7%)

Emerging groups

The largest changes in the religious affiliation of the population in Australia between 1996 and 2016 were for those who nominated:

  • Anglican (-967,638 persons)
  • Uniting Church (-511,231 persons)
  • Christian,nfd (+417,384 persons)
  • Islam (+400,483 persons)