Australian Christians are turning their back on God in record numbers, with a snapshot of major religions suggesting people have lost faith in their churches and are questioning their belief in God.

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Australians losing the faith
Australians losing the faith
Father Emmanuel Stamatiou of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia says his congregation is strong. Pic: Lee Griffith

Australian Christians are turning their back on God in record numbers, with a snapshot of major religions suggesting people have lost faith in their churches and are questioning their belief in God.

An investigation into Christianity has revealed a major decline in Australians' faith over the past 16 years, with those surveyed having more confidence in much-maligned court and legal systems than churches andreligious organisations.

Keeping the faith

Christian Research Association senior researcher Philip Hughes said new research to be released this week surveyed 1718 Australians at the end of last year, repeating questions asked in 1993 and 1999. Most measures of religion showed a significant decline.

"There is certainly decline in the Christian portion of the population and it is occurring at a somewhat faster rate than we had anticipated," Dr Hughes said.

"Interestingly, we now have good evidence that quite a lot of the people who are dropping religion are moving into spirituality or seeing themselves as spiritual people."

Of those recently surveyed, only 16 per cent attended a religious service at least once a month compared with 23 per cent in 1993.

More than 40 per cent of those who grew up in the Anglican and Lutheran churches now describe themselves as having no religion, as do 36 per cent of those who grew up in the Uniting Church and 28 per cent of Catholics.

Curtin University of Technology pro-vice chancellor for humanities and professor of religion, Majella Franzmann, said the findings were not surprising and put the results down to generational change and a lack of confidence in the Church.

"The trend away from institutional religions has been going on for some time," she said. "People are losing the sense that the Church has the authority in their lives."

Only 33 per cent of 15 to 29-year-old respondents identified with a Christian denomination compared with 60 per cent in 1993.

Uniting Church WA moderator Rev. Ken Williams said the decline was typical of society.
the age.

However, Christ Church Grammar School chaplain Frank Sheehan said students interest in religion and God was stronger than ever.

"Spirituality is alive and well, I’m certain of that," he said. "There is a huge amount of interest in studying religion. That's not, of course, just Christianity."