Australian Teens Have Complex Views
According to the 2016 Census, about a third Australian teens were not religious. The picture may be slightly different if you ask teenagers about their religion, instead of the guardian or parent filling out the census form.
Our new survey found that at least half of teenagers say they are religious nos, meaning they don’t identify with any religion. We found a complex picture of faith and spirituality among young Australians when we looked deeper. While most Gen Z teens don’t have much to do with organized religion in their daily lives, a large number are open to exploring other ways of being spiritual.
The notion of Australia being a Christian nation is under threat by diversity, migration, secularisation, and a growing spiritual marketplace. Teenagers are more involved in this remaking Australian religion than any other group. Teens are constantly confront with all sorts of differences in secondary school and on social media. Teens are developing their own opinions on existential issues.
The national study of scholars ANU, Deakin, and Monash, the AGZ Study, includes 11 focus groups with students aged 15-16 in Years 9-10 (ages 15-16), a nationally representative telephone poll of 1,200 people 13-18 and 30 follow-up interviews.
What do we know about Generation Z’s spiritual and religious lives? Six types of identity were identify using powerful statistical analysis. These categories include religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, and attitudes towards the universe. We interview at least five teens in each group to verify that the types were not just computer-generate assumptions.
These Teens Spirituality We Discovered
This-worldly. This group represents 23% of Australian teens. These wordly young people don’t have the space or time in their lives for spiritual, religious, or other non-material options. They don’t go to worship services and aren’t affiliated with any religion.
Technically, they are atheists because none of them believe in God. However, not all of them identify as atheists. They also don’t consider themselves to be secularists or humanists.
Not open to other spiritual possibilities, such as reincarnation and horoscopes. They agree that the physical world is all that exists. Their thinking is completely this-worldly or, as one put it, science-y.
The religiously committed. The 17% of Australian teens who are religiously committed make up a stark contrast to this-worldly. Their lives are influenced by their religious faith, which can be Christian (mainly Pentecostal, evangelical), Islam, or another religion.
A large number of these people attend worship services regularly and report positive religious experiences. They also believe in the existence of life after death. Nearly all agree that religion is an important part of how they live life.
Teens Exploratory Seekers
Seekers. The exploratory Seekers are a tiny but important 8% of teens that is strikingly different from the “committed” groups. Their worldview is decidedly eclectic. They all describe themselves as spiritual. This belief manifests in the belief in life after death and repeated experiences with a power or presence that is different than their everyday selves.
Seekers are open to a wide range of world views, and seek out their spiritual truth. Most likely, they consult their horoscopes or have had a psychic read to them. They may also identify with a religion or believe in a higher power.
These-worldly, Religiously dedicated, and Seeker teens represent distinct groups of religious, spiritual, and nonreligious youth. The rest of Australia’s teenagers are more focused on one of these paths, but less conviction.
Spiritual but not religious. A group we call Spiritual but Not Religious is 18% of Australian teens. They don’t consider religion, God, or faith important, but they are open to spiritual possibilities. This includes issues like life after death, reincarnation and belief in a higher power (but not God).
Religion, Spirituality, And Atheism
Indifferent. One group, as you might expect, is mostly indifferent or undecided about everything, religion, spirituality, and atheism. This group is called Indifferent, following the example of scholars from overseas. These teens make up about 15% of Australian teenagers.
Nominally religious. These people are culturally religious and follow the religious identity of their guardians, parents or community. Catholic or Islamic schools. They identify with a religion and believe in God. However, faith is not an important part of their daily lives. They don’t believe in reincarnation and horoscopes.
If you dig deeper, you will find that there is much diversity among teens in faith and spirituality. They are comfortable with that. Their data shows that they are open to the possibility of diversity in their lives. Although a small number of people are strongly committed to a particular faith, they are all not anti-religious. It’s all good, as we have heard many times.
Teens are suspicious of anyone trying to dictate what they can or cannot do to other people, or being disrespectful to those who are not like them. Beware of didactic politicians.