It is interesting that the Australian census shows atheists to be the second most common group. Second of course to Christian beliefs. Over the last century Australia has seen a growth in personal identification as atheist/non-theist from 0.4% of the population in 1901 to approximately 16% today. That's progress....or evolution!
It would be interesting to establish real data that includes the thousands of Australians who are really atheist/agnostic but continue to waver between rationalism and faith due to the virulence of the virus of faith. I speak of those who attend church with their minds in neutral, working unsuccessfully to maintain the charade of faith, opting to write Catholic, for example, in a census form because their mind has yet to realise that they can write atheist without God smiting them. Religion has become a habit, never reviewed for many. A well-honed, centuries-old mindgame and web of deceit.
Our constitution protects us from a state religion...
Section 116 of the 1900 Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia provides 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.
In 1983, the High Court of Australia defined religion as a complex of beliefs and practices which point to a set of values and an understanding of the meaning of existence. The ABS 2001 Census Dictionary defines "No Religion" as a category of religion. Hence, agnosticism, atheism, Humanism, and rationalism (all sub-categories of "No Religion") are - legally speaking, religions.
and No Religion too...
An increasing number of Australians no longer align themselves with institutional religion... Some in a conscious and organised way find non-religious responses to their search for meaning. Some of these may belong to various humanist organisations and work for a better and less divided world gained through human means. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, in 2001, 15.5% of the Australian population identified themselves as "No Religion" in a census question.
There are 2,905,993 people in Australia with purely secular beliefs, categorised by ABS as "No Religion". This category includes just 4 named sub-categories, namely agnosticism, atheism, Humanism and rationalism. A 5th sub-category is "No Religion, nfd" (nfd=no further definition).
Combined, non-theistic secularists are the second largest "religious" grouping in Australia after Christianity.
Atheist interests in Australia are represented nationally by the Atheist Foundation of Australia. Humanist interests in Australia are represented nationally by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies. Rationalist interests in Australia are represented nationally by the Rationalist Society of Australia.
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