Australia's founders had a vision on
religion that centered on forbearance which made the new
colony attractive to a variety of religious devotees and
Many are individuals that suffered religious
persecution from their own lands, found the open acceptance
of Australia a reprieve.
Several thousand Prussian 'Old Lutherans' came to South
Australia seeking refuge from religious persecution in their
They established their own particular form of
Lutheranism in the Barossa Valley and to this day the
Lutheran Church in Australia remains a separate entity to
the official German Lutheran Church.
Immigration from countries of
Mediterranean and Eastern Europe has resulted in a number of
new Orthodox Christian churches being founded and
recognized. Migrants from Italy, South East Asia and Africa
have included adherents of established denominations,
particularly the Roman Catholic Church, bringing greater
diversity within older churches.
Even today, the religion on Australia continues to diversify
as it grows. Supported by the constitution, it states that
“the Commonwealth of Australia shall not make any law
establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious
observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any
religion, and no religious test shall be required as a
qualification for any office or public trust under the
Commonwealth” as stated in Section 116 of the 1900 Act.
Despite the influx of foreign beliefs and doctrines, the
original aboriginal religion continues to thrive albeit in
lesser number of practice. Australian aboriginal religion
and beliefs still continue to thrive. Dreaming as it is
called centers belief in potent beings that arose out of the
land, fashioned and gave birth to people, plant and animal
The Dreaming beings as they are referred to, continue
to have power over the natural world, but their compliance
to impart their powers of fertility hinges upon people
abiding the traditions and performance of certain rituals.
In recent years, the religion in Australia has diversified
far beyond what anyone could have imagined. The 2006 census identified the
different religious factions in the country today.
Sixty four percent of Australians identify
themselves as Christian with 26% calling themselves
as Roman Catholic and 19% as Anglican.
Five percent of the country categorizes themselves
as followers of non-Christian religions. Nineteen
percent have labeled themselves as having "No
Religion"; 12% declined to answer or did not give a
response adequate for interpretation. According to
the census, the fastest growing religion in
Australia, during the intercensal period of 2001 and
2006, were: Hinduism by 55.2 percent, Non-religion
by 27.5 percent, Islam by 20.9 percent, Buddhist
affiliation increased by 17 percent, and Judaism by
the sole religion to demonstrate negative growth, with the
number of followers declining by 0.6 percent.
The major population rise was Non-religion which increased
by 800,557 individuals. Buddhism, Islam and the Hindu
religion followed suit with their own growth of worshippers.
Christianity was the only religion in Australia to decrease
in devotees. This was noted as a decline of 78,513 people.
During that same time the populace of Australia enlarged by