Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Return of the Jedi
A short break from the Samuel/Saul series to reflect on the religious state of the nation, as caught in the last census.
I have to add that I'm talking about the 2006 New Zealand census here. Any resemblance between Kiwi religiosity and Uncle Sam's is, I suspect, purely coincidental.
Firstly, the imperious Anglicans are in freefall. In this little nation of four million, that church is now down under 600,000. That doesn't surprise me, having read three books recently about the contemporary Church of England. Simply stated, they're seriously screwed up. The Catholic numbers are drawing level, and one suspects that their commitment factor is vastly higher (even in Blighty there are more Catholics in church on Sunday than Anglicans). The Presbyterians barely scrape 400,000.
Having put the boring old conformist sects to one side, the second-rankers provide more interesting fare. A mere 56,913 Baptists - still ahead of the Mormons (43,539). Wicked, depraved persons who wrote "Jedi" as their religion (20,241 of them!) outnumber Jehovah's Witnesses, Exclusive Brethren, Jews, Sikhs and Rastafarians.
The Dominion Post article which I've used as a source hasn't bothered with outer fringe groups like the WCG, but I'd say they're out-light-sabred by the Jedi by at least 40 to 1.
Lutherans in the US outnumber the Episcopalians last I heard (even if a few million belong to deviant groups like the Missouri and Wisconsin synods). Here Lutherans are lucky to reach 5,000, and the DomPost article ignores them altogether. However no less than 1.3 million New Zealanders described themselves as non-religious last year, the fastest growing "faith" in the land.
May the Force be with them all.