Pointers

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Pointers 29-2 June 2019

Inside this issue:

Spiritual but not Religious
The two biggest changes in the religious profile of Australia over the past fifty years are firstly the movement of people into the ‘no religion’ category. The second movement has been the growth of people who describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’.

Estimating Homelessness
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), on Tuesday 9 August 2016 there were around 116,400 people who were defined as ‘homeless’ in Australia (ABS, 2018). This reflects a 13.7 per cent increase in the number of homeless people since the previous Census estimate in 2011.

Plenary Council 2020 – The Times They Are A­-Changin’
The Catholic Church in Australia is in a period of  significant change, impacted not only by the changing context of Australian society, but  specifically by the effects wrought by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Coleridge, 2016, 348). The Church as a whole is being challenged to change its ways and the people who make up the Church are in equal parts hopeful, hurting and confused as they navigate the process of doing so.

Changes Across the Globe
Peter Brierley, the former director of the Christian Research Association in the UK, has summarised some of the major religious trends in his newsletter, FutureFirst. The material is based on the Global Christian Database  developed at Gordon­-Conwell University and materials gathered by Operation World.

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Pointers 29-1 March 2019

Inside this issue:

Denominationalism Today
More Christian denominations exist today in Australia, despite the efforts to put aside differences and bring Christians together. Some attend one community for a Bible study, another for an action group, a third for worship service. Also there are those that have little regard for the old divisions and choose to call themselves ‘Christian, nfd’ (not further defined). Philip Hughes explores these interesting trends.

Reimagining a More Compassionate, Less Anxious Society: A community conversation with Hugh Mackay

Stephen Reid outlines a public conversation with Hugh Mackay where he lists a number of ‘gloomy’ characteristics which he believes paint a picture of the current situation in Australian society. He is, however, optimistic about Australia’s future. Mackay listed some factors which have led to a socially fragmented society. 

In Memorium: Rev Dr John Francis Bodycomb
In the last edition of Pointers, Philip Hughes reviewed John Bodycomb’s book, Two Elephants in the Room: Evolving Christianity and Leadership. John was ordained into the Congregational Church. He had a number of appointments in churches in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Changes in the Religious Identification of Children between 2006 and 2016
Between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, the number of children being identified with a Christian denomination (by a parent or guardian) rose by around 40,000 people, from 2.292 million to 2.332 million. Stephen delves into the statistics behind changes in religious identification of children. He also notes that immigration is contributing significantly to the growth of non-Christian religious groups in Australia.

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Pointers 28-4 December 2018

Inside this issue:

Volunteering and Change in Religious Involvement
Readers of Pointers may remember assisting us in the development of the survey for the Study of the Economic Impact of Religion on Society (SEIROS) in 2015. The survey was conducted in 2016, and some initial analysis was undertaken by the Christian Research Association. The survey data was then given to Deloitte Economics who prepared a report, which was released in May 2018. Deloitte Economics decided that they would focus only on those people who reported that they did not attend a religious group when growing up, but did attend when they were adults, that is, on religious converts. As a consequence of this focus, Philip Hughes has done more analysis on religious conversion and volunteering.

Unpaid Work in Australia
Unpaid or voluntary work fulfils many important functions for individuals and society. Voluntary work can provide meaning for individuals, can open up opportunities for community participation, and can assist with general wellbeing and health of the contributor as well as the recipient. Unpaid work also contributes to the national economy in often unrecognised and unmeasured ways.

A Review and Reflection of Two Elephants in the Room: Evolving Christianity and Leadership
John Bodycomb has been a minister in the Uniting Church for more than fifty years. He developed Christian Education programs in South Australia, taught in the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne, was chaplain at The University of Melbourne, and has ministered in many Uniting Churches. One of the fathers of the application of sociological thinking to ministry, he has never been one to shy away from challenging questions. His latest book is no exception and addresses very important questions for all those involved in Christian ministry: is there a future for organised Christianity, and for professional leadership within it?

Book review: God Is Good For You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times
God is good for you, argues Greg Sheridan, and his book with that title is good for you, too. The author is the Foreign Editor of The Australian newspaper, and all his journalistic skill and experience is on display in this easy-to-read but insightful and challenging book.

Changes to the Board of CRA
At the Annual General Meeting of the Christian Research Association in November, there were some significant changes in personnel. Although two long-serving members finished up, the future of the association remains bright with experienced members stepping into new roles, and new members coming onto the Board.

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Pointers 28-3 September 2018

Inside this issue:

Enhancing Forgiveness Outcomes: A Unique Approach
Forgiveness is an important touchstone for all Christians. At once we recognise it as central to Christ’s salvific mission (Matthew 26:28); link it to the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38); and, by inference, consider it vital in the life of the Church (Romans 12:9-21). However the practical realities of forgiving, or being forgiven, are both complex and subtle. Moreover, as both pastors and mental health professionals know, if forgiveness is got wrong resentment flourishes. For this reason practitioners should approach forgiveness with a clear methodology and achievable goals – not as an exploration of what might be possible. To this end the current paper will show readers how a simple
mathematical model can structure ‘forgiveness work’ and be used to identify appropriate goals (Chiera & Edwards, 2018). Implications and relevant pastoral examples will be provided.

Report on the 2018 Australian Population Association Conference
The Australian Population Association (APA) Conference, usually held every two years, draws together population experts, practitioners, policy makers, researchers and students from across Australia and beyond to explore important contemporary demographic and related issues relevant to Australia.

In memoriam – Dr Gerald Rose

Some notes on Graham Rossiter
Life to the Full: The changing landscape of contemporary spirituality: Implications for Catholic school Religious Education,
Kensington, NSW: Agora for Spiritual, Moral and Religious Education, 2018, ISBN: 978-0-9808681-5-9.

Professor Graham Rossiter is well known among those involved in Catholic Education in Australia. He has been teaching religious education for many years at Australian Catholic University (Sydney) and has written a number of substantial books. Among those books is the mammoth manual Reasons for Living: Education and Young People’s Search for Meaning, Identity and Spirituality: A Handbook (Crawford, M, and G Rossiter. Melbourne: ACER, 2006). Professor Rossiter has just released another book in which he summarises the major themes of his work on religious education. While the book is written for Catholic educators, it has broader implications for all educators in contemporary Western cultures. In many respects, his work parallels my own in Educating for Purposeful Living in a Post-traditional Age and Rossiter generously notes those parallels throughout his book.

CRA Staff and Approved Researchers

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Pointers 28-2 For Downloading

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Providers of Religious Services in Australia in 2016
The profile of Australian clergy provides some insights into the vitality and health of the church as a whole. However, getting a reliable picture of Australian clergy across the denominations is almost impossible. There are many hundreds of denominations, some of which keep better records than others. In some places, clergy are appointed by local churches and have no wider recognition. In many places, the leaders of congregations are lay people who may or may not have had any training. Some denominations count retired people, while others count only those in active service. Some count those in administration and teaching who could be leading a congregation, while others do not.

Personal Income in the 2016 Census
In the 1933 Australian Census, in an attempt to assess the effects of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, a question about income was asked for the very first time. It has since been included in every Census since 1976.

Catholic Religious Orders and Recruitment, 2000-2015
In February 2018, a report on a large-scale study of recent recruitment to Catholic religious orders in Australia was released. The report uncovered some common characteristics of religious orders that are attracting new members. It also corrected two common misconceptions: first, that only conservative or traditional religious orders attract new members; and second, that only people who were born overseas are entering religious life in Australia.

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Pointers December 2017 – PDF version

Inside this issue:

Immigration and Its Continuing Impact on Religion in Australia
While the Australian government has cracked down heavily on people arriving in Australia without visas by boat, it has continued to allow in many migrants who arrive in other ways. The 2016 Census recorded 2,309,756 people who had arrived in Australia in the ten years between 2006 and 2016 and who remained in Australia at the time of the Census: an average of about 231,000 people per year. Immigration has contributed greatly to the increase in Australia’s population. Over that ten year period, the total population increased by 3.5 million. Immigration accounted for 65 per cent of that growth.

Census data for Church Life and Mission
One of the strengths of the Christian Research Association for many years has been its unique role in compiling, analysing, understanding and disseminating Census data for local churches, denominational leaders, and other church or Christian organisations to assist them in supporting church life and mission.

A Few Facts about the Fastest Growing Immigrant Group
The growth of the Indian diaspora in Australia over the past ten years has been phenomenal. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of Indians in Australia has grown from 147,106 to 455,389 according to the population censuses, a growth of 210 per cent.

Church Growth amidst Decline in Scotland
Peter Brierley, the former director of the Christian Research Association in the UK, has recently completed a census of the churches in Scotland. He has written up the results in a Growth Amidst Decline: What the 2016 Scottish Church Census Reveals. The patterns were similar to those occurring in Australia: evidence that what is happening in both countries reflects larger trends in Western cultures.

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Pointers September 2017

Inside this issue:

Some Notes about ReligiousIdentification in 2016 Census
The overall picture of the religious identity that is given by the 2016 Census is significantly different from the picture just 5 years ago in 2011 as shown in Table 1. However, it confirms the trends that were evident in earlier censuses.

‘No Religion’ in the Australian Census
More than 7 million Australians ticked ‘no religion’ on the Census form in 2016, compared with just 3.7 million in 2006. The numbers saying they had ‘no religion’ almost doubled in that ten year period. The proportion of the Australian population describing themselves as having no religion rose from just 18.8 per cent to 2006 to 30.1 per cent in 2016. What is the reason behind this very considerable change in a short period of time in the Australian religious/non-religious profile?

Some Notes from the Conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion 2017
The conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR) was held at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland between 4th and 7th July 2017. It was attended by more than 500 people from around the world, most of whom presented papers. This meant there was an enormous choice of papers. Apart from the major plenary sessions which were held each day, there were often fifteen or more papers being given simultaneously on a wide range of topics. Any one individual could only attend a small selection of what was on offer. The following are my notes on one of the major theme of the conference: the pluralisation of religion and responses to it.

Refugees, theology and the social sciences
A review of The Refugee Crisis and Religion: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question edited by Luca Mavelli and Erin K. Wilson (Rowman & Littlefield) 2016 ISBN 978-1- 7834-8895-7

 

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