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.
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.
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.
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.
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.