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"No Religion" Is Now Australia's Number One Religion

In 1966 just 0.8% of Australians ticked the "no religion" box.

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For the first time ever, "no religion" has overtaken any single religious denomination, toppling Catholicism as the number one religious affiliation for Australians, the latest national census released on Tuesday revealed.

Mick Tsikas / AAP

Worshippers gather for The Stations of the Cross as part of Good Friday Easter services at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

Australia remains a fairly religious country, with 60% of people reporting a religious affiliation.

In 1966 only 0.8% of Australians ticked the box for "No religion", which includes atheists, secularists and agnostics.

The proportion of people reporting no religion increased to 30.1% in 2016 – up from 22% five years ago, and nearly double the 16% reported in 2001.

Those aged from 18 to 34 were most likely to report not having a religion (39%) than other age groups. Those aged 65 years and over were more likely to report a religious affiliation.

Christianity is still the most common religion (52% of Australians identified as any of the Christian denominations) but has been declining in popularity in Australia for the past 50 years – in 1966, 88% of Australians identified as Christian and by 1991 it was 74%.

Catholicism is the largest Christian grouping, accounting for almost a quarter (22.6%) of the Australian population.

Islam (2.6%) and Buddhism (2.4%) were the next most common religions reported. Hinduism had the most significant growth from 2006 to 2016 (from 1.3% to 1.9%) driven by immigration from South Asia.

The most religious state was New South Wales where 66% of people reported a religious affiliation, and the lowest proportion of people (53%) with a religious affiliation was in Tasmania.

For more information on religion in the Census, go to the Religion Data Summary.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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