Year 11 General Unit 2, Mod 5 - Religion in Australia

Religious Identity


This focus of this module is the place of religion in Australian society, both in the present and in the past. Connections can be made with Unit One where you looked at the place of religion in society in general.

Key Terms

Sectarianism: excessive attachment to a particular sect or party, especially in religion.

Protestantism: adherence to the forms of Christian doctrine which are generally regarded as Protestant rather than Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.

Evangelical Protestantism: maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement.

Focus Questions

  • What does religion look like in Australia?

  • How is religion viewed in Australian society?

  • What place does religion have in Australian society, past and present?

Focus Areas

The place of religion in society

  • Religion plays a role in Australian society in many different ways
  • Four useful categories for classifying the roles religion plays are:
  • Supporting religious faith
  • Providing Social Services
  • Promoting values or defending the rights of people in the political sphere
  • Contributing to the Cultural dimension of society

Religion in historical contexts

  • European settlement of Australia beginning in 1788  brought Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.
  • The Catholic contingent were almost entirely Irish convicts who were discriminated against for political, cultural and religious reasons
  • The Catholic Church in Australia expanded but was subject to sectarianism and prejudice.
  • Catholicism is now the largest Christian denomination with around 23% of the population claiming affiliation. It is also multi-cultural
  •  The Catholic bishops developed their own system of schools staffed by members of a number of religious orders 
  • In the 1960s the government voted to fund religious schools. Since then the Catholic Education System has continued to grow and now serves about 20% of Australian school students. Almost all staff are lay.