Monday 25 November 2013

Sydney Atheists in the Sydney Morning Herald

Today, the Sydney Morning Herald reflects on a recently released Australian Social Trends report noting the rise of irreligion in Australia. Georgina Mitchell writes:
As a social trends report by the Bureau of Statistics highlights, Australians are increasingly ditching religious dogma. Just under 4.8 million people, or 22 per cent of the population, said they had ''no religion'' on their census forms two years ago.
It is an accelerating trend. In 1911, Australia was unusual in giving its citizens an option of saying they had no religion on census forms. Then just 10,000 people did so, or 0.4 per cent of the population. 
From 1971 onwards, the ABS notes, those reporting no religion has risen by about 4 percentage points a decade. 
And the non-religious have some interesting things in common. The report shows nearly half of same-sex couples report no religion, more than twice the rate of the overall population. Women aged over 15 are less likely to have children if they have no religion and are half as likely to have four or more children as the religious. 
And 31 per cent of those with a postgraduate degree reported no religion, compared with one in five people with a high school education. Those who studied creative arts and sciences at university were most likely to have no religion. 
Sydney Atheists president Steve Marton said younger people became involved in atheism as greater access to information allowed them to question views. 
''Young people today aren't as brainwashed as their forebears; they can look past the religious text and dogma and look on the internet,'' he said. 
''Social media plays a big part. They don't have to be closet disbelievers any more.''
The Bureau of Statistics' Australian Social Trends report notes that males are more likely than females:

 Percentage of people reporting no religion(b) by sex,1971 - 2011 (ABS)

This trend is less pronounced in people under 22:
Percentage of young people reporting no religion, by age and sex, 2011 (ABS)

Among those with no religion under 35, school leavers are as well represented as those with tertiary qualifications, showing the upsurge of awareness of atheism in the general community.

A decreasing number of parents are willing to identify their children as their partner's religion

The ABS notes that "Reporting a religious affiliation is not the same as actively participating in religious activities. In the 2010 General Social Survey (GSS), 15% of men and 22% of women aged 18 years and over said they had actively participated in a religious or spiritual group."

Over 70% of Australian marriage ceremonies are performed by civil celebrants.
Number of marriages by type of celebrant, 1991-2011 (ABS)

The number of people choosing not to answer the question remains similar to 1933 levels, when no religion was not an option (9% vs 13%)

Percentage of people(a) reporting no religion(b) or providing no response to the census question on religion, 1901-2011 (ABS)
The ABS notes:
The 'no religion' response does not tell the whole story, however. It is not possible to work out the actual number of Australians with no religion, as there are people who may or may not be religious who choose not to answer the question, or give an indefinite answer. 
In 1911, the responses of 2% of Australians (83,000 people) were classified as 'objected to state'. In 2011, 'not stated' responses accounted for 9% of the population (1.8 million people).
Reasons for not answering the question may include a belief that religion is a private matter, or because people are answering for someone else and do not know their religious affiliation. 
Those filling out Census forms for older people in nursing homes, for example, may choose the 'not stated' response if the person is not able to communicate ('not stated' responses rise steeply from 8% of people aged 75 to 79 years to 16% of people aged 95 years and over). 
Some people may not answer solely because the question is voluntary. In 1933, when the question was explicitly stated to be so, there was a six fold increase in people choosing not to answer, from less than 2% in 1921 to 13% - the highest proportion of such responses to date.

Jedi will never be classified as a religion, and Sydney Atheists joins with the Atheist Foundation of Australia to encourage people that aren't religious to mark "No Religion" on the census.

The ABS report concludes that "As the rising trend of reporting no religion is driven by younger people, and the tendency is for religious affiliation to remain stable in cohorts, it is possible that we will see Australia become increasingly more secular in the future."

Sydney Atheists believe in a secular and prosperous Australia, and will be here every step of the way.

Sunday 10 November 2013

This December we will have an unusual debate in place of our usual talk:

My former religion is more ridiculous than yours!!!

In this debate a former Jew, Christian and Muslim will attempt to prove that their previous religion is more ridiculous than the others. A god (of sorts) will be the moderator, you be the judge!
The evening will combine our last talk with our last social evening as the finale for 2013. 
Join us for this special night of fun, frivolity and irreverence. If you feel inclined, you might even dress in some religious or heathen attire.
We would ask that you be accurate with your RSVP as we expect that this event will be fully subscribed.

Please RSVP at
We do request at a minimum a couple dollar donation to cover the cost of the hall hire and any other costs we incur, we are not for profit and 100% of funds will go to operating the group. Also, as the hotel is doing us a very good deal for the space, we hope that you will avail yourself of some of the fine food and beverage that they offer.
The dinner and talks will both be at the one venue, First Floor Strattons Hotel, 249 Castlereagh Street Sydney.
Dinner will be available from 6.00pm whilst the talks will begin at 7.00pm.
You will be able to eat before or during the talks. We will also have a 15 minute intermission. This venue affords us much in the way of social possibilities as well as the talks. Please note that catering will not be available after 8.30pm. Meals are available from $10.00.
Location: 249 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 
The nearest station is Museum, whilst Town Hall Station is a 5 to 10 minute walk. Cheap parking is available at 730 George Street, $9 flat rate 6 mins from the meetup hotel. If you come in the door to the furthest right of the Pub on Castlereagh Street, then up the stairs to the right, and all the way to the top, there is a large room to the left.
Once a month the Meetup meets for a topical discussion with a special guest/s. Special guests in the past have been members of the meetup, who spoke on a topic of their choice, or experts from outside, speaking on a topic of their expertise. If you wish to speak, or know somebody who would like to speak to us, please contact Steve 0450 123 211 or Morgan 0451 035 088. Slots are either 1 hour or part there of to make up the hour.
 We usually attempt to record these talks and put them up on our youtube channel pending time for editing and final speakers' approval. Filming is also dependent on copyright issues.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Our Friday night talk by Orie Gilad was a marvelous success. On behalf of all our attendees, I'd like to say a big thank you to Orie for her informative and entertaining presentation. As a first, we had more attendees than acceptances.

We hope that all our newcomers had a great evening.

Steve Marton