by Greg Spearritt
Dick Gross, author of the ‘Godless Gross’ column in the SMH, raises an interesting question in a recent post. How is a census (such as the one approaching) to frame a question that gives us any useful information on the status of religion in Oz? What does it mean, for example, to claim (as many atheists do) that religion has declined? Do the numbers tell the story? As Gross points out, even if the number of adherents doesn’t change much the content and intensity of their beliefs might have changed radically.
To be sure, both the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Australian Christian Lobby will see huge significance in the numbers; expect them to come out spinning the moment new stats on religion are available.
What would be interesting also would be a question that somehow captures the extent of what many of us (blithely) call ‘fringe’ beliefs.