As well as people’s beliefs and affiliations, religions are also a measure of the cultural diversity in the nation. The fastest growing religious groups represent communities which have had a lot of migration in the last few years.  So which are the fastest growing religions (and communities)?

Fastest growing religions

The chart below shows the fastest growing religions, with the biggest percentage change over 5 years to 2011. I have excluded any religion which had less than 1,000 adherents in 2011, to avoid massive percentage swings.

A lot has been made in the media already about Hinduism being the fastest growing religion, and it certainly is growing fast, up by 86% over 5 years due to the large rise in the population from India. But in percentage terms it is far outpaced by the growth in another Indian religion,  Sikhism. This religion is not in the ABS standard output list and so gets missed in most analysis. Sikhism rose from 26,000 in 2006 to 72,000 in 2011, a rise of 174%.

Another Indian religion, Jainism had the next largest percentage rise, but from a very small base – Jaians still number less than 3,000 in Australia.

For more information on the biggest migrant group increases, see my recent blog article on the topic here.

There are very few Christian religions in the fastest growing religions. ‘Pentecostal, nfd (not further defined)’ is in there at #4 but this is apparently due to a change in the structure of the church, and is a result of many people formerly marking ‘Assemblies of God’ moving into the generic Pentecostal category.
5 of the top 20 are not religions at all, but rather personal belief systems (eg. Theism, Agnosticism, Religious belief, nfd).

Largest growth

Of course looking at fastest growth like this can be a little misleading, so in the interests of fairness here is a chart showing the largest growth which shows that Western Catholic had the largest growth of any actual religion (taking out the top increase of  “No Religion”, discussed in a previous blog), followed by “Christian, nfd” and then the three big non-Christian religions, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. While these three have had strong growth, they still make up only 2.2%, 1.3% and 2.5% of Australia’s population respectively.

Access more information about the Australian Census 2011.

Access population statistics for Australia, States, Capital Cities, Local Government Areas and suburbs at .id’s demographic resource centre.

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Glenn is a Census data expert, having worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 10 years and at .id fo...

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