Census data predicts that Christianity could become a minority religion in Australia following a drop in the number of Australians identifying as Christians. However, this forecast could be reversed as migrants slowly tip the scale, bringing multicultural diversity in congregations in the country, according to SBS News.
Father John Pearce from St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in Sydney said the arrival of migrants had helped his parish flourish. “Both here and in Endeavour Hills in Melbourne where I was previously, those parishes are flourishing more than others, because of the new migrants that have come into our community,” he said.
The parish priest added that migrants enrich churches. “Our Easter, and Christmas and major feast days, it wouldn’t be unusual to have a Tongan gospel procession and a Samoan offertory procession, prayers in other languages,” he explained.
This impression of an upward trend in the number of Christians is expected to be confirmed in the 2016 National Church Survey. The survey began in 1991 and is conducted every five years. This year, survey forms were translated into 10 languages and the results of the survey are expected to reveal more about the cultural diversity of churches.
“You’ve got whole refugee communities arriving, and a little church that’s been struggling, suddenly has 50 South Sudanese people, and the whole place is transformed,” said Ruth Powell, survey’s research director.
Meantime, in an article of Angela Shanahan from The Australian, “Australia should take in more Middle Eastern Christian refugees,” it states that a 1987 census in Iraq estimated a Christian population of 1.4 million, but now it has dropped to about 200,000. Christian refugees from the Middle East fled their homeland for good. They left a war that targeted people because of their faith and now they’ve sought refuge in Australia with no plans of returning.
Ms. Shanahan urged that Australia cannot be religiously blind in the choice of refugees. The government announced 12,000 new places under the refugee program. Australians approved this announcement and assumed that mostly Christians would fill these slots. But, the department cannot reveal the make-up of these refugees. For over a year, 10,092 visas have been granted and 8,317 refugees have arrived in Australia.
Sbscomau. (2016). News. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/12/19/keeping-faith-how-migrants-are-reviving-christian-churches
Shanahan, A. (2016). The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/angela-shanahan/australia-should-take-in-more-middle-eastern-christian-refugees/news-story/498e0ae0a7f8afe97ac52da8d9760ad0