The major religion of Australia is Christianity with about 61% of the population identifying as Christian. The Constitution has a document named “Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia” (signed in 1900) which does not prohibit establishment of churches as well as any interference with the religious freedom of its people. The Government of Australia respects religious rights and contributes to freedom in the practice of religion.
According to a discretionary Census carried out in 2011, 61.1% of the population affirmed their affiliation to Christianity – with 30.1% being Protestants (Anglican 17.1%, Lutheran 1.2%, Uniting Church 5.0%, Presbyterian and Reformed 2.8%, Baptist 1.6%. Pentecostal 1.1%, 1.3% other Protestants), 25.3% being Catholic (Roman Catholic 25.1%, other Catholic 0.2%) while the remaining 2.9% consists of other Christians, 23.3% said that they had ‘no religion’ (this category of religion consists of subcategories such as agnosticism – this philosophical view claims that existence of God or supernatural beings are mysterious and perhaps unknowable, atheism, humanism and rationalism) and an additional 9.4% refused to answer the question. The rest of the population is disparate with 2.5% Buddhists, 2.2% Muslims, 1.3% Hindus and 0.5% of Jews.
The natives of Australia practiced their own religious traditions before the British first settled in their lands in 1788 since which they primarily took up Christianity. They believe that the world, human beings, plants and animals were brought into being by Supernatural beings that later on retreated into the skies. They also incorporated ritual systems with life transitions as life and death.
Initially the Church of England was the most privileged religious institution in Australia but with time, the country witnessed transformation in its legal structure which assured individuals of religious impartiality. Many Irish Catholics were brought to Australia through the criminal justice system and the following years in the 19th Century, British Nonconformist Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalist, Baptists as well as German Lutherans put up their own churches, encouraging smaller groups arriving such as the Jews, Chinese workers and Afghan Cameleers to set up churches as well.
It is important to note that Australia has a powerful tradition of civil (non-spiritual) government, but religious institutions have always played a very important role in public life of Australia. Catholics and Protestants for example have played a very fundamental role in developing education, health as well as welfare services within Australia.
Currently, about a quarter of Christians go to church weekly, and about a quarter of all school students are enrolled in church-affiliated schools. Christian festivals of Easter and Christmas are regarded public holidays.