THE 2016 Australian census results revealed that one third of Australia’s population claims to have no religion, but this does not shock Tumut All Saints Anglican Church minister Peter Blundell.
“I think these results accurately reflect a trend that has already been happening for a long time,” he said.
“People have had less and less of a connection with their church probably over the last few decades or more. The family ties to the church have weakened to the point they are no longer reflected in the census.”
Reverend Blundell does not think this has anything to do with spirituality deserting Australia.
“McCrindle Research did some faith based research six years ago which showed that 50 per cent of the population didn’t have a church connection, but were open to discussion about faith, so it is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.
“Sometimes there are barriers, like people have had a bad experience (with church). Declining numbers of people going to church doesn’t mean people are not open to thinking about faith.”
Census data also reveals that the Tumut is a more religious place than average, with 10 per cent more people claiming to have a religion. The break-up is that we are 30.1 per cent Anglican, 27.3 Catholic, 19.3 pre cent secular, 3.6 per cent Presbyterian and 3.1 per cent Uniting Church.
Reverend Blundell believes that there are two possible reasons for Tumut’s defiance of the national trend.
“Due to our demograph, we are usually a bit behind with Australian trends, and as we are a rural area, we are more conservative,” he said.
Father Luke Verrell of Tumut Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception says the Census data “reflects Christianity’s move in Australia towards being counter-cultural.”
“Today’s culture scorns against keeping a belief that is not ‘useful’,” he said.
“A philosophy of ‘live well and do no wrong’ is adequate. Belligerence towards religion, a ‘crisis of truth’ and conservative values being out of sync with modern life offer reasons to turn away. In Tumut, a higher profession of faith is preserved by a stronger community and family life which faith is spread through. What does this mean? The typical Aussie nowadays is not a Christian but a ‘top bloke’; they are someone who helps out, causes no trouble and reckons things could be better. It’s all fine as far as citizenship goes, but Jesus carried a cross for him.”