Religious Concentrations in Australia

No religious group is spread evenly throughout Australia. For each religious group, there are areas in which they are more concentrated and other areas where they are less so. One might expect that such concentrations have to do with vitality of local religious communities. However, the patterns tell us much more about history of settlement and the ways people make decisions about faith.

The current patterns of settlement of religious groups have depended a lot on the employment opportunities available for the immigrants when they arrived. Early settlers mostly brought agricultural skills and settled in rural regions. Since World War II, most migrants have looked for work in manufacturing or in professional fields and have found housing that was suitably located and affordable.

While it is easier to live among people who are similar in beliefs and values to oneself, a major factor in people developing positive attitudes towards people who come from different backgrounds is personal interaction. Getting to know personally people of other faiths generally leads to higher levels of tolerance (Kehrberg 2007). Because Jews and Muslims live in highly concentrated areas, it makes it less likely that other Australians would meet them, and this could contribute to the development of negative attitudes towards them.

For more information see: Pointers, Volume 23, No. 4, Pages 1-6

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