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Changing beliefs in Sydney suburbs
Changing beliefs in Sydney suburbs

FIRST ON 7: Parramatta's Catholic Church is expecting its biggest ever Christmas congregation next week, as more people celebrate their faith.

But it's not just a resurgence in Christianity that's happening in our suburbs, with a 7News survey finding other religions are also packing them in.

There's no doubt the faces you see across Sydney have changed. Fifty years ago, official figures show we were more likely to see Anglicans, Catholics and Uniting Church followers as the major religious groups.

But a survey by McKell Research shows their influence is falling, with Muslims, Hillsong members and Jehova's Witnesses becoming increasingly active in our communities.

"Well I think the interesting thing that what we're really seeing is the changing face of Sydney," Peter Bentley from the McKell Institute said.

Five decades years ago, Woollahra and Waverley were seen as diverse suburbs, but now, it's Sydney's west and south-west.

"Certainly out here in Western Sydney it's booming because we've had so many new arrivals," Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher said.

According to the survey, Catholics, Muslims and Hillsong members are seen as the most active in the community, followed by Anglicans and Hindus.

Official figures show Hindus make up the fourth biggest religious group in Parramatta. They're also prominent in Blacktown and Auburn, but 50 years ago, they didn't rate a mention.

“We are certainly getting a lot more people through the door now and because of that we actually keep open the temple the whole day now," Murugan Temple President Thillai Naedesan said.

Muslims have gone from no mention 50 years ago, to the biggest religious group in Auburn today.

They're also the third biggest group in Liverpool, Parramatta and Campbelltown.

"I am Muslim before I come to Australia, but in my culture I am Australian more than I am from overseas," Neil Kadomi from the Parramatta Islamic Cultural Association said.

There's also been a significant rise in the number of Buddhists; it's the third biggest religion in Auburn and fourth biggest in Liverpool.

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