Reports are coming out on Gary D. Bouma’s new study of religious life in Australia. The study (and book) entitled “Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century” reveals that Australia, rather than adopting Europe-style secularism or developing an American equivalent of the Religious Right/Secular Liberal divide, has forged its own religious identity.
“That a substantial majority of Australians (74.7%) continue to identify with a religious group, and spirituality is ever-increasing…Australia’s religious and spiritual life is increasingly diverse and less tied to formal organisations (those in the category ‘Other Religions’ in the 2001 census had increased by 33%)…Australia’s future seems certain to involve religion and spirituality, including both new and traditional forms.”
Specifically, modern Paganism is growing at a faster rate than any other faith grouping in the country.
“Amongst those religions on the rise are Buddhism (up 79% since 1996), Islam (up 40%), Hinduism (up 42%), Pentecostalism (up 11%), ‘nature religions’ including Paganism and Wicca/witchcraft, (up 130%), and Scientology (up 37%).”
So while some may debate as to whether or not modern Pagan faiths are the fastest growing in America, it seems certain that there isn’t any doubt in Australia. Combine this new data with the continuing rise of modern Paganism in Britain (not to mention Europe in general) and it seems clear that modern Pagan faiths have long passed the “tipping point” of being a mere fad or small cult(s) destined for the margins. As our loose grouping of faiths emerge among the world religions it should be interesting to see not only how the monotheist faiths react to us, but how we interact with other polytheist faiths in the world.