2 thoughts on “Religion in Australia”

  1. Like Ms. Demarco, I do think it gets tiresome when people tend to look at Paganism, other New Religious Movements, and minority faiths in general from the attitude that the original author’s article implied. In general, I think it shows a complete lack of graciousness and humanity to look down upon another person’s sincerely held beliefs.
    Of course, I’ll also note that the author didn’t strike me as being all that respectful to Christianity, either. There seemed to me a certain amount of patronizing involved when discussing religion at all. So I’m inclined not to take it quite as personally as Ms. Demarco did, either.
    Of course, I’d also draw attention to this paragraph in the original article:
    “While church attendance may wax and wane, belief in a god appears to be steady, held by about 68 per cent of the population. Only half that proportion, though, believe that their god is the author of their faith’s scriptures, and a smaller proportion still – 27 per cent – believe those scriptures are literally true. Clearly, the questions posed by a rational approach to religion’s claims have undermined the basis of belief.”
    Now, it’s my understanding that historically, there’s been a wide range of understanding of what it really means to say the Bible is inerrant. It’s also my understanding that the extreme literalism promoted by some Christian groups is actually a somewhat modern phenomenon. The author’s comments in that paragraph suggest to me that he’s unaware of either of these facts. Which seems to be problematic if you’re going to write an article about religion.

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  2. To be honest I don’t think the journalist was all that well informed about religion, period. Previous surveys have shown that almost half of Australian who believe in ‘God’ understand word in terms of an impersonal life force, rather than a personal deity. And, if I recall correctly, up to 20-30% of this religious 68% also believe in reincarnation. So, despite the ‘God’ language it is hardly pointing to a Christian monopoly.
    As for literalism, the obvious question is what does one mean by that? I believe Jesus literally meant love your enemies when he said love your enemies. Many fundamentalists would disagree, and claim Jesus was speaking more figuratively. Who’s got better claim to literalism? Frankly I don’t know what to write down when I encounter such questions in surveys, so I tend to swing between options. How meaningful is the result then?

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