22,015,576 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA
$40,800 (2011 est.)
Protestant 27.4% (Anglican 18.7%, Uniting Church 5.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 3%), Catholic 25.8%, Eastern Orthodox 2.7%, other Christian 7.9%, Buddhist 2.1%, Muslim 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 11.3%, none 18.7% (2006 Census)
While Australia has a secular government and an increasingly non-religious society, the country remains predominantly Christian and, at times, protective of its European identity. The British establishment of penal colonies in the late 18th century brought Christianity to Australia and led to the decline of Aboriginal religion and culture. Most convicts and free settlers were either Anglican or Catholic, setting the stage for a long-lasting sectarian antagonism. The White Australia policy placed stringent restrictions on non-white immigration to the country from the 1850s until 1973. Since the lifting of this policy, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim populations have grown notably, but events like the 2005 Cronulla race riots have demonstrated resistance to this trend. The Australian Constitution bars the federal government, but not the constituent states, from establishing a religion, imposing any religious practice, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. State governments are not bound by these proscriptions but abide by them in practice.
The Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR) is a non-profit, grassroots organization that works to improve the image of Islam and Muslims, defend their civil rights, and promote Muslim civic engagement. It does so by hosting seminars for members of the media, educating children and youth, reaching out to law enforcement, and promoting inter-community dialogue. FAIR has condemned terrorism and criticized other Muslim organizations for not taking a more proactive approach to addressing...
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCAA) is an ecumenical body that brings together nineteen Christian Churches, including Anglicans and other Protestants, Catholics, and several Eastern and Oriental Orthodox denominations. It is organized into several departments, addressing topics ranging from indigenous rights and women's issues to the difficult challenge of sexual abuse by clergy. The largest of these departments is Act for Peace, a group that provides overseas aid on behalf...
The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) is the peak body representing the Buddhist community in Australia. Composed of five state councils, it coordinates over two hundred temples and organizations, which in turn represent the majority of Australia's nearly half million Buddhists. The member councils provide a variety of services to their communities, including educational programs and hospital chaplains. In addition, the FABC participates directly in interfaith dialogue through...
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is the main organization in charge of coordinating the activities of Catholic bishops in Australia. It is a biannual meeting of bishops, but also includes a permanent Secretariat and a variety of commissions dealing with specific and ongoing issues. Through its Media Center, the ACBC also issues statements to the media regarding a variety of public affairs, ranging from family planning to immigration policy. In addition, its Research Directorate...