Students losing their religion

The data reflects a drift to secularism in the wider population (Dreamstime)

Australian school students are becoming more likely to identify with “no religion” even in religious schools, including a 68 per cent increase in Catholic schools. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Across all schools, 37 per cent of students identify with “no religion”, according to an analysis of 2016 census data by the Independent Schools Council of Australia. That's up from 30 per cent in 2011.

At government schools, 45 per cent of students profess to no religion or did not specify a religion in the 2016 census, up from 38 per cent in 2011 and the highest proportion ever recorded.

About 31 per cent of students at independent schools are categorised as having no religion, up from 24 per cent in 2011, and 14 per cent of students at Catholic schools did not have a religion, up from 10 per cent in 2011.

The change reflects a drift to secularism in the wider population. About 30 per cent of people reported “no religion” in the 2016 census, up from 22 per cent five years earlier. The trend is most marked with the younger population, with 39 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 reporting no religion.

Just over one in two Australians of any age identified as Christian, with Catholicism and Anglicanism the two biggest denominations.

The number of students describing themselves as having no religion increased 68 per cent at Catholic schools, 48 per cent at independent schools and 41 per cent at government schools.

The next biggest increase was in students who said they were Christian, with a 59 per cent increase in Catholic schools, a 15 per cent rise in private schools and a 27 per cent rise in government schools.

Greg Whitby, executive director of the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, which oversees 80 schools, said the diocese “recognises things are changing” and caters to students with different levels of understanding in faith-based lessons.

“Though Catholic students have enrolment priority, we welcome other community members who wish to join our caring learning communities,” Mr Whitby said.


Religion in decline in Australian schools (Sydney Morning Herald

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