Pointers Vol.19-4 ( December 2009)
- Religion and Education – Does a university education destroy a person’s religious faith? The Census data from 2006 suggests that it is certainly not destroying the faith of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims or Sikhs. It does show that highly educated people in Australia identify less with the Christian faith than does the rest of the population.
- Education and the Church – Australia is becoming an increasingly educated nation. The 2006 National Church Life Survey results show that church attenders are also becoming more educated. But how do the two compare? How educated are church attenders in comparison to the nation, and what impact does this have on church ministry?
- Spiritual Development of Young People – In 2008, the CRA was part of an international project to explore the spiritual development of young people organised by the Search Institute of the USA. The Search Institute Inventory of Youth Spiritual Development was designed in the USA and conducted in a number of countries around the world. The CRA organised the survey in both Australia and Thailand.
- Recent Publications in the Religion-and-Film Field – Following the success of “Recent publications in the religion-and-film field” in Pointers (2008, vol. 18, no. 3), below is an updated compilation of 2008-2009 items (and selected others) for your further interest, enjoyment and edification.
Pointers Vol.20-1 (March 2010)
- Climate Change and the Human Spirit – Environmental problems, such as pollution and global warming, are seen as the greatest threat to the future of the world, according to young people surveyed in Australia, United Kingdom and Thailand. At the popular level, awareness of environmental issues has grown and there is widespread awareness that this threat is the most critical ever faced by human beings. It was also a major topic at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, held in Melbourne in December 2090. It was noted that climate change and environmental pollution have their roots in the human spirit, and will not be solved simply by new technology or by spending a lot of money. The problem must also be addressed by the world’s religions as a spiritual concern. Sectarianism in Australia – A new book by the Anglican priest Dr. Benjamin Edwards, WASPS, Tykes and Ecumaniacs, sketches the long history of sectarianism in the Australian cultural scene. A brief survey of 1788 to 1947 notes the deep cleavage in colonial society between the Irish Catholic community and the mainstream British Protestant and Anglican society. This cleavage, as Edwards amply illustrates, lies deep in the memories of many older Australians (ch.1). Edwards also points out that it has been the theme of many novels, films, comedy sketches and television sitcoms, ensuring its enduring place in popular culture (ch.2).
- Review of Chaplaincy in State Schools – The first chaplain was appointed to a government school in 1955. Since that time, chaplaincy has become more common in State schools around Australia. However, chaplaincy in State schools has grown hugely in the last 3 years from around 650 to more than 1870 chaplains.
- Counselling and the Church – The client-based approach to counselling which emerged in the 1960s and 1970s was something of a threat to traditional religious establishments. It suggested that people would come to wholeness through inner reflection and self-direction rather than through the teaching of an external body. The tension between these two approaches was particularly strong in the Catholic Church, and is well illustrated in Opening Up: a History of the Institute of Counselling by David Bollen.
- Satanism – In the 1996 Census, 2091 people in Australia identified themselves as Satanists. In 2001, the number was down to about 1800, but rose again in the 2006 Census to 2248 people.
- Which Churches Use Email? – There have been extraordinary
technological advances in the ways that people communicate with each other. Are there some churches that are more likely to embrace these trends and use new electronic methods to communicate with attenders? In the 2006 National Church Life Survey churches were asked about their email and internet use.
Pointers Vol.20-2 (June 2010)
- Are Australians ‘Losing Their Religion’? – New data, gathered late 2009, provides a new comprehensive picture of the religious faith and spirituality of Australians. The data is part of the International Social Science Survey (ISSP) program and involved surveys of 1718 adult Australians. It is the best picture we have had of the religious faith and spirituality of the Australian population since the Wellbeing and Security Survey of 2002 conducted by Edith Cowan University, Deakin University, Anglicare and NCLS Research. Indeed, this new survey repeats a range of questions asked in 1993 and 1999, giving us an excellent picture of changes over time.
- Factors in Declining Church Attendance – The number of Australians attending church services is declining. Data from the ISSP (International Social Survey Programme) shows that, between 1993 and 2009, the proportion of Australians attending a service of worship monthly or more often dropped from 23 per cent to 16 per cent. Occasional attendance (less than monthly) also dropped from 42 per cent to 36 per cent. In turn, the proportion claiming they never attend services of worship rose from 33 per cent to 43 per cent. What might be some of the underlying factors and transitions influencing these trends?
- Power and the Churches – In the 2009 International Social Science Program (ISSP) survey just released, 42 per cent of Australian respondents indicated that churches and religious organisations had ‘about the right amount of power’ and 37 per cent indicated they had ‘too much power’ or ‘far too much power’. In addition, 78 per cent ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that religious leaders should not influence how people voted, and 71 per cent that religious leaders should not influence government. What implications does this have for Christianity’s underlying principles of social justic ? Do these figures suggest that churches and religious organisations the Australian public wants the churches to remain silent on issues?
- Is the End Nigh? Print based ReligiousPublications in Australia – In 1992, the CRA published a special section in the annual Yearbook for Australian Churches, which focused on religious periodicals. There were about 220 religious periodicals, including a handful from coordinating agencies of the major non-Christian religions. There is now a much wider diversity of periodical and web publications from Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist communities in particular, and also notably there has been development of inter-faith publications. A follow-up article in Pointers considered some of the issues facing the Christian press at the time, with five major points outlined.
Pointers Vol.20-3 (September 2010)
Articles Include :
- 25th Anniversary Dinner Speech – 2 September 2010 Speech by Rev Dr Bruce Kaye
- CRA: Chair’s Report 2010 – Rob Steed, chair of the board of the Christian Research Association at the 25th Anniversary
- CRA: Staff Report 2010 – Philip Hughes, Senior Research Officer of the Christian Research Association speaking at the 25th Anniversary Dinner
- Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: the Conference – Between 31st August and 3rd September 2010, 140 people met in Glen Waverley, Victoria, to review the ministries of the churches in the contemporary context. Thirty-five people were involved in presenting research, and leading plenary and small group discussion on the various aspects of Australia’s ministry. Each of the four days examined a separate topic. The first day looked at the national picture of Australia’s spirituality and the ways in which the churches have a national impact. The second day focussed on children and young people, examining the churches’ ministries through church activities, schools and chaplaincies. The third day examined the scene in relation to family, workplace, community and health. The fourth day focussed on the spirituality of the churches. The following is a brief summary of some of the major themes in the discussion, arranged in terms of reflections on context and on ministry.
- How We Make Sense of Life Does Matter – Spirit Matters, by Peter Kaldor, Philip Hughes and Alan Black,was launched at the “Shaping Australia’s Spirituality” conference in Melbourne on 31 August 2010. Subtitled How Making Sense of Life Affects Wellbeing, it presents an in-depth analysis of national surveys undertaken in Australia on wellbeing, religion, spirituality and how we make sense of life. The book argues that there are significant links between how we make sense of life and our personal and societal wellbeing.
- Third Edition of Australia’s Religious Communities Launched – The Third Edition of the Australia’s Religious
Communities CD-Rom (ISBN 978-1-87522369-5) was launched on at the CRA 25th anniversary dinner by Dr Trevor Batrouney, a researcher at the now defunct Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research which originally commissioned the CRA to produce a series of 12 books on the major religions of Australia. The third edition has been fully revised. All statistics have been up-dated, using the latest Census and survey data. All the text has also been reviewed and
up-dating has occurred throughout this encyclopedia of religion in Australia.
Pointers Vol.20-4 (December 2010)
- Global Religious Trends – The religious trends occurring in Australia are not typical of the rest of the world. The Atlas of Global Christianity, a new book from the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity, plots the global trends.
- Lausanne Congress 2010 – October 2010 saw Australian Christians on the move. Just in front of me in the passport queue was a nun on her way to Rome to celebrate the canonisation of Sr Mary Mackillop. I was heading in a different direction: to Cape Town, South Africa, for the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Since 1974, the Lausanne movement has brought together Christians from around the world to focus on mission and evangelism. It has been a global movement of evangelicals, inspired by the world mission of Billy Graham and John Stott. The third Lausanne Congress involved around 4200 selected participants from around the globe.
- Attitudes to the Variety of Religions – The First European Settlers to Australia thought of Christianity as the only ‘civilised’ religion and had no interest in the religions of Chinese miners, Hindu peddlers or Islamic Afghan camel drivers. Since the 1970s, attitudes to other religions have changed markedly. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (2009) provides the most recent perspective.
- Who Reads the Bible? – The Bible Society of South Australia, Scripture Union, YouthWorks, the Lutheran Church and The Salvation Army are currently sponsoring a study of Bible reading among young people. The CRA is currently visiting youth groups around Australia talking with young people about their attitudes to the Bible, their reading habits (if any), the catalysts and the hindrances for reading, and how they interpret the Bible. As a prelude to this study, the CRA re-visited the research it has done on young people in the Spirit of Generation Y Project (2002 to 2008) and the associated Schools Spirituality Project. It summarised the results of that earlier research in relation to Bible reading. The full report can be found on the CRA website. Here is a summary of the findings.
- Attitudes to Issues of Sexuality – In revising the materials for the 3rd edition of Australia’s Religious Communities CD-Rom, we discovered some interesting patterns in the changing attitudes to issues of sexuality amongst Australians.
As might be expected, Australian adults have become more accepting of pre-material sex and homosexuality. However, in relation to extra-marital sex, Australians have become less accepting. This suggests that while Australians usually move into a de facto relationship before marriage, they take faithfulness in marriage very seriously.
Pointers Vol.22-1 (March 2012)
Is the ‘New Atheism’ influencing Australians?
There is little evidence from surveys of the Australian population that the ‘New Atheists’ are having widespread impact on people becoming atheist.For a detail account of Australians belief in God, and the factors inhibiting belief, see the first article
Changes in Beliefs and Attitudes to Life Among Students
Responses to surveys of 4100 students in Catholic schools in 2011 can be compared with students responses to surveys conducted between 2005 and 2008.
Being Faithful in Diversity
A series of lectures by Gary Bouma, published by ATF Press in a small book Being Faithful in Diversity, explores the challenges of faith in a multi-faith society.
Celebrating the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop
In May 2011, CRA researchers interviewed 14 students who had travelled to Rome for the canonisation. Eight months on, the interviews found that the students remained very enthusiastic about the event.
Attitudes to Abortion and Approaches to Ethical Issues
15% of Australians say that abortion is always or almost always wrong. Younger people are more likely to accept abortion than older people. However, the views of those who attend church are vastly different with 56% of them saying that abortion is always or almost always wrong.
Pointers Vol.21-1. (March 2011)
- Possibilities of Leadership in Rural Catholic Parishes – With the declining number of priests available, many Catholic dioceses are investigating various ways of organising their parishes. The issue is similar to that faced by many denominations. Catholic parishes, however, have some issues not faced by some Protestant denominations in that priests have an irreplaceable role in celebrating the sacraments. Priests are central to parish life in the Catholic Church and there has not been a tradition of lay people as leaders of worship services. However, two case studies suggest that the patterns of leadership can change and may even strengthen parish life as they do so.
- Catholic Religious Institutes in Australia – In 2008, the National Council of Catholic Religious Australia commissioned the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office to survey all Catholic Institutes of Clerical Religious, Religious Brothers and Religious Sisters in Australia.The final report of the survey, ‘See, I am Doing a New Thing!’, was launched in Sydney in November 2010.
- Looking at Art Looking at Life – One way of understanding the culture that we inhabit is to consider how it is sustained in visual terms. This means looking at the visual shape of things as they are expressed through the images, signs and symbols of the world of hopes that make up contemporary consumer culture.
- Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing in Education – Late 2009, Springer Publishing House released a huge twovolume collection of essays on spirituality, care and wellbeing in education. The volume is timely as schools and other institutions increasingly find themselves grappling with issues of mental health and wellbeing. The first volume of essays focusses mainly on the psychology of religion and spirituality. The second volume is primarily about educational programs and environments in promoting holistic learning and wellbeing. This review will focus on the second volume.
- Demographics of a Nation: Australia and the Church – This article from NCLS Research presents a summary of Australian population, age, marital status, education, country of birth and religion. The Australian population is compared with church attenders using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the 2006 National Church Life Survey.
Pointers, Vol.21-2. (June 2011)
- Global Trends in the Changing Context of Mission – Reflections on the 6th Lausanne Researchers Conference, Sao Paulo
- Researching the Church at the Local Level – While several papers at the 6th International Lausanne Researchers Conference focused on overall issues in Worldwide Christian mission, a number of researchers presented papers outlining issues in research at the local church level. Each of the papers presented a local context for church ministry: the vitality of local evangelical churches in Rio de Janeiro, alternative models of church development and planning in Germany, and the inclusiveness of churches to disabled people in Brazil.
- The Church and Family Life in Australia – The following paper was delivered by Stephen Reid at the 6th International Lausanne Researchers Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April 2011. Whilst the paper looked at family life in the Australian context, comparisons to other countries was possible through analysis of data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and the World Values Surveys (WVS).
- Cross-Cultural Ministry Now and Then –
- Publications in the Religion-and-Film Field – In the tradition of Pointers 2008 (vol. 18, no. 3) and 2009 (vol. 19, no. 4), below is the third compilation of useful articles in the religionand- film field for your interest, enjoyment and edification.
- On-Line Religion – The Internet has become an increasingly important part of people’s social interactions as well as a means of accessing information. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009), the proportion of Australian households with computers rose from 44 per cent to 78 per cent between 1998 and 2009. Access to the Internet has increased even more rapidly, from just 16 per cent of households in 1998 to 72 per cent in 2009. It is inevitable that the role of religion on the Internet would also increase over time. A recent edition of the Australian Religion Studies Review was dedicated to articles on religion and
spirituality in cyberspace.
Pointers, Vol.21-3. (September 2011)
- Religion and Youth: World Perspectives – an exploration of how young people are relating to religion around the world.
- Who’s Coming to School Today? – the attitudes of students, staff and parents to Catholic Schools in Queensland.
- Access and Values: Functions of Religion in Australian Society – what Australians regard as important functions of religion.
Pointers (by email) is produced four times a year and contains articles on research on religious faith and church life in Australia. Most of the articles feature primary research and it is through Pointers that many new findings are released to the public.
Pointers is emailed to subscribers in March, June, September and December.