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Exploring the Spiritual Climate

Understanding how to create safe spaces to talk about faith and spirituality

For most Australians, their gender (89%), ancestry and culture (85%), level of education (84%) and sexuality (83%) are key in defining their identity. For more than three in four Australians, their job/career (77%) plays a large role in defining their individual identity, along with seven in ten Australians who indicate that their faith and spirituality (69%) is a key element of their identity.

Australians are open to expressing faith and spirituality

Australians are open to having spiritual conversations and increasingly describe themselves as spiritual. Not only are Australian’s open to expressing faith or spiritual beliefs in their personal interactions (88%), but also in movies, music, and TV shows (87%) and social gatherings (85%). Four in five Australians are open to faith and spiritual beliefs being expressed in education (81%) and social media (80%).
In contrast to this, Australians are less comfortable with the expression of faith and spiritual beliefs in politics (29%), sport (25%) and the workplace (24%).

Younger Australians are more open to faith and spirituality

While some Australians might not be fully comfortable with faith and spirituality being expressed in public domains, younger Australians are the most open. Not only are younger generations (Generation Z and Generation Y) more likely to be open to changing their current religious views, but they have also been asking themselves more faith-related questions over the past year.

All Australians should feel safe to express their faith or spiritual beliefs

The Australian census identifies 70% of Australians who describe themselves as religious or spiritual. Dr Lindsay McMillan notes that “research reveals that a large portion of this population aren’t comfortable publicly expressing their beliefs.”
While the Australian spiritual landscape appears open and safe, two in five Australians with religious or spiritual beliefs (40%) still feel the need to hide their faith or spiritual beliefs at least some of the time.

“While faith and spiritual beliefs are a key part of most people’s identity, almost one in five Australians of faith feel that they have to hide their beliefs all or most of the time.” – Mark McCrindle

Australians with spiritual or religious beliefs are worried about being misunderstood

One of the main concerns Australians have when sharing their religious beliefs is that they might be misunderstood or misrepresented (33%).
Other concerns include being targeted or harassed (16%), fearing they may be marginalised or ostracised (15%) or even being labelled as an extremist (15%).

Australians feel they are compromising on their core beliefs

Not only do Australians worry about the reaction of others when sharing their faith and beliefs, they also feel as if they are compromising on their core beliefs (35%). Three in ten Australians (30%) feel like they are not being true to themselves.

The Future of Religious and Spiritual Freedom

As Australia continues to become more spiritually diverse, Australians are more open to expressing their faith and spiritual views.
Almost half of Australians (46%) believe Australia has more religious freedom now than 10 years ago and think it will have more in 10 years’ time.
It comes as no surprise that Australia is considered to have a considerable amount of religious freedom and is predicted to continue on that trajectory.