The party’s over for Christianity in New Zealand: census indicates that that it could soon be extinct

IN 2011, the National Director of the New Zealand Christian Network, Glyn Carpenter, confidently declared in a statement posted on the NZCN website that his organisation planned to “turn the side of secularism” and “rebuild a marriage culture”.

As we speak, Carpenter – whose outfit caused outrage in 2012 with a “Jesus Heals Cancer” billboard –is probably scrabbling around with his fellow godwits to find a “Plan B” to counter a trend that shows that New Zealanders simply have no use for superstitious beliefs.

Glyn Carpenter and the billboard that offended many New Zealanders

Glyn Carpenter and the billboard that offended many New Zealanders

According to this report by Max Wallace, Vice-President of the Rationalists Association of NSW and a council member of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, the results of the 2013 New Zealand Census has Christianity down to 47 per cent.

He points out that, according to retired scientist Ken Perrott’s reseach, it will decline to just above 20 percent by 2030, and much further beyond that date.

Ken Perrott's  graph shows Christianity heading for oblivion in NZ

Ken Perrott’s graph shows Christianity heading for oblivion in NZ

The New Zealand Catholic noted that there was “a stunning rise” in the number of people declaring “no religion”, a total of 1.635 million citizens out of a total population of 4.24 million.

Wallace writes:

Evangelical Christians, like many Muslims and other hardline religious, just don’t understand, or refuse to understand, or reject the principle of, political secularism. They are wedded to a world view that simply cannot countenance any alternative to their own.

He adds:

Sociologically, it seems the party is over for Christianity in New Zealand. While the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists’ radio campaign to encourage citizens to tick ‘no religion’ in the 2013 census may have been successful, it is more likely that long term trends of secularisation and various sexual abuse and financial scandals associated with churches have put them beyond the point of no return; future declines in adherents seems certain well into the future.

Wallace further writes:

Despite their vast wealth, in the billions, forever accumulating thanks to their tax-exempt status; despite all the funding they have received for their religious schools; despite their wealthy, independent tax-exempt colleges; despite their schools of theology in universities; despite all the media time through various radio and television programs, either through purchased time or their own media; despite their various campaigns, their bookshops, their churches, their profile in the symbolic activities of government, the Anglican Queen’s tours – despite all this –  Christianity in New Zealand is falling in a hole.

And he asked:

Just why all taxpayers should continue to subsidise Christianity’s failing mission in New Zealand (and by extension, Australia) through tax exemptions and grants is a question that is now thrown into relief.

There are many secular demands on the budget, alternative ways to allocate taxpayers’ revenue that would help grow the economy. It is not in the public interest for New Zealand to subsidise Christianity’s (and other religions’) failing private projects. It is time for government to move with the soon-to-be majority of the public, and blow the whistle on this game.

12 responses to “The party’s over for Christianity in New Zealand: census indicates that that it could soon be extinct”

  1. 1859 says:

    I suspect the decline is even more dramatic – especially when you examine the ethnic breakdown of NZ christians. As I’ve previously posted, the most religiously fervent are new immigrants from mainly Korea, China,the Philipines and the Pacific Islands. However, what tends to happen is that the parents arrive bubbling with christianity, but as soon as their kids go to the strictly secular schools they quickly have their minds opened to other things. In my school, for example, almost 47% of the students are from the above 4 countries but when they mix with the other 53% of kids from New Zealand or those with European origins, their christian beliefs soon get a hammering. But don’t get me wrong – the kids here are not constantly declaring ‘secular’ principals – it’s just that religion is not seen as an ‘issue’ but rather, as it should be, an irrelevance.
    But, having said this, we still have our fair share of religious, door-to-door nutjobs. However, they are seen more as people to be either pitied or ridiculed.

  2. AgentCormac says:


    An irrelevance indeed. And the sooner more people see religion for the sham it really is the better. Good to see NZ is setting and example for the rest of the world to follow off the rugby pitch as well as on it.

  3. charlie says:

    Great news. Now, as AgentCormac said, we need to keep this trend going across the planet. Organized religion must become ever more irrelevant. Of course this trend will just feed the bogus “persecuted xtian” crap that they have been force feeding us all for far too long. While it is too early to start much of a celebration, it does make me feel good that at long last, more people are waking up to the scam of organized religions. Let us hope and work towards a time when ALL organized religion just quietly fades into the woodshed, never to rise again and destroy human minds and devastate the planet and all life as it has done and tried to do for countless centuries.

  4. barriejohn says:

    The following was interesting, as it confirms what many have suggested. I can’t remember whether the study has been referred to here before.

    “A lot of scholars have argued that religion provides a supportive buffer that helps people to cope better in time of difficulty,” says Dr Sibley. “But we see a more interesting pattern: the consistent levels of wellbeing we observed in religious and nonreligious groups, and converts, suggest that people are finding support both within and outside of churches.”

  5. andym says:

    @1859. A good point, well made. A few years ago, I read an article in Prospect that argued that with immigration, the UK would become an increasingly religious society. What the writer had ignored was the secularising effect of, er, secular society. As you say, these people in the main won’t be avowedly anti-religious. They’ll just increasingly view religion as an irrelevance.

  6. barriejohn says:

    This was interesting, but confusing:

    The following comment was more enlightening!

    10 January 2014 7:13pm

    There is nothing inevitable about the birthrate of Muslims in the UK. Just a few years ago, alarmists were pointing to the soaring birthrates of Arab nations as the greatest threat to European security. Yet today, the story is about how birthrates are plummeting all across North Africa.

    Studies have shown that immigrant birthrates begin to fall immediately — even amongst immigrants who already have children — no matter where they come from. It doesn’t happen overnight, but birthrates will eventually fall to wider societal norms.

    It’s also worth pointing out that children under 5 aren’t Muslims or Christians — they have merely been born into Muslim or Christian families. No British child is immune to the recent secularization of our society, not even those who are born into Muslim families. Yes, there is undoubtedly a lot more pressure upon Muslim youth to conform to the religion of their elders, but those who fear some kind of militant Muslim majority taking over in Britain in the future are not dealing in reality.

  7. Caute says:

    The good news should be kept secret. The pious zealots will see it as an opportunity and will want to smash it all up. They will want to invade and turn back the tide especially using immigrants. NZ….wake up at watch for the push back. And the most pernicious and divisive is the rcc and especially the warmongering excremental fundamentalist islamofacist lunatics. Want a peaceful quiet fulfilling prosperous life? Work hard, enjoy life……. Then keep quiet about it.

  8. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    NZ leading the way again. From being the first country to give votes to women to this. Way to go NZ. I always knew there was a reason I wanted to move there, this just confirms my desire.

  9. […] The party’s over for Christianity in New Zealand: census indicates that that it could soon be exti…. […]

  10. Robster says:

    The worry for NZ is, they only have a small population. Religious nutters could organise mass immigration plans to resettle lots of their deluded minions onto its green fields and make a demographic dent with as few as a couple of hundred thousands. What the few reaming NZ christians need to do is pray to their Baby jesus and wait (and wait…)for a response.