Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some interesting Marriage Statistics for Australia by Religion

In the latest edition (Vol 19) of Pointers (the journal of the Chrisian Research Association), there is a table based on the 2006 Australian Census data which gives the "Rates of marriage and de facto relationships occuring within religious groups". Very interesting.

Rates of marriage are highest (over 90 percent) among Muslims, Brethren, Coptic Orthodox, Assyrian Apostolic, Druse, Hindus, and Sikhs. Next (between 80 and 90 percent) are Pentecostals, Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahai, Mormons, Jews, Reformed and Eastern Orthodox. Three groups come in at the 70's: Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhists, and Churches of Christ. Then, at 69.1% are the Baptists AND those of "no religion". Finally Catholics come in at 63.4%. Religious groups with a marriage rate of under 60% include: Anglican (59.8%), Uniting (56.1%), Lutheran (54.6%), Salvation Army (53.7%), and Presbyterians (40.5%). Finally, Spiritualism and Nature Religions come in at 40% and under.

It would seem from this, that among mainline Christians, Catholics still come in tops - but not by a lot. What does this say about how well we are forming people for the vocation of marriage in Australia today?

But wait! There's more.

The table also includes the proportion of all relationships which are de facto within each religious group. The lowest? No, it's not Islam (3.4%); it's Assyrian Apostolic (0.8%). The highest (excluding No Religion at 27.1%, Spiritualism at 27.3% and Nature Religions at 42.8%) is Anglican at 13.5% and Lutheran at 13.0%. That's half that of those with no religion, but still pretty high.

Want to guess where the Catholics come in? 12.9% - the sixth highest on the list and higher than Buddhism (at 11.2%).

Again, what are we doing to prepare Catholics properly for the vocation of marriage and family?


At Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:41:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Interesting that the Assyrian Apostolic church figures are high for marriage and nearly nil for defacto relationship. However ,whilst these show are admirable ,if there is now only marriages amongst its members,given that this is a small community in Australia,one could ask as to whether there might be genetic issues also appearing. For example amongst orthodox jews in America there is the the deadly disease TAY SACHs which has been attributed to marriages within the group.
But again the question where is the preparation for marriage and family

At Thursday, August 13, 2009 3:21:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

There was a breakdown according to age (but not correlated to religion), showing that the greatest percentage of defacto relationships was far and away under 30's (15-19 = 86% of all relationships - not surprising; 20-24 = 68%, 25-29 = 41%, and then a drop down to 23% for 30-34yrolds). The graph shows a smoothly decreasing exponential curve according to age. Which just suggests that as people get older, they are more likely to marry and settle down. So yes, the age factor would have to be taken into account. But that just makes the task in front of us more urgent: it is precisely our young people (under 30's) who need to be formed, prepared for and enabled to contract healthy and happy (not to mention valid) marriages, for the sake of growing healthy and happy families. Marriages beginning in the late thirties are less likely to lead to families with the number of children above the national average.

At Thursday, August 13, 2009 3:24:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

I actually posted this thinking of you, Perry. I know you love statistics!

At Thursday, August 13, 2009 3:24:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

And as for the meaning of "rate of marriage within the religious group", I think we would just have to assume that this is based on Census data, and hence is a co-relation of those who ticked the box "married" and those who ticked the box "Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran etc". So no, I don't think it means "within" in the sense of "married to another person also within the same religious community".

At Thursday, August 13, 2009 4:35:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Actually, you can now download that edition of Pointers and read the article and see the dat for yourselves. CRA has just sent the link through. It is at

At Thursday, August 13, 2009 6:30:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

As Bp Fisher has noted, the great vocations crisis is not in regard to Holy Orders (given the number of young men who go to Church, the number of vocations to the priesthood is healthy enough; and the majority of priests young and old do keep their vows), but in regard to Holy Wedlock (for about half of all marriages fail: the "lock" half of this old word seems particularly ineffective these days, which is awful since it seems to imply that modern temptations increasingly frustrate the grace of the sacrament).

In my limited experience, priests tend not to preach about sexual morality (most bowed to the demands of their congregations and stopped speaking against current trends in this area in about, oh, 1968 I should think), with the result that the sexual mores of Catholics are not dissimilar to the general population these days - with little formation against the Zeitgeist in this area, and the powerful influence of popular culture and the media, most do as men and women now do...

For instance, a young guy I know, whose family know a certain bishop quite well, seemed to me blissfully unaffected by any old-fashioned notions about chastity before marriage: he had had regular night-time companions since his late teens, and spoke of this as the most normal thing in the world, without the slightest intimation that this didn't quite square with the religion into which he'd been baptised, nor with what he'd learnt in all his years of Catholic schooling. Given the statistics that the vast majority (95%?) of Catholic school-leavers cease to practise their faith according to the traditional measures (yes, Perry, I know what you'll say, but still), I suspect that their sexual behaviour is more or less the same as their peers (see a previous post of David's on this).

Perry, while I know I'm drawing a long bow here, and have not statistics and research results to hand, I have a feeling these simple statements of mine have at least the illusion of plausibility about them!

At Friday, August 14, 2009 4:13:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Which Blackadder did that come from? I just bought all four series the other day, as they are on special at JB HiFi at the moment...

At Friday, August 14, 2009 9:55:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

The third series, set in the Regency period. It's the episode where Prince George hires two actors to prepare him to deliver a speech and, in the canonical version the line is "you think, just because we're actors . . ." etc.

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 5:28:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

You can't escape the Zeitgeist.

Hmmm, as David mentioned once, at an interfaith meeting of young Melbourne Catholics and Muslims, the former were nearly all unmarried, the latter nearly all married with children...

Perhaps it is our society that has gone astray with its normalizing of late marriage.

I must say, I always assumed that it was fairly obvious what sexual relations are improper - fornication et al. (as Scripture and Tradition, still reiterated by the Magisterium, put it - see the condemnations of many laxist propositions). May I ask what grey areas you are referring to?

In any case, to ask crudely, as was done in the sixties, "How far can you go?" is to be asking the wrong question, since we should be about growing in virtue, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, not just seeking to avoid mortal sin.

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 5:31:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

I must say, it seems to me that "to conduct... sexual lives with honestly, integrity, authenticity and fidelity" implies that the persons concerned must marry, since sexual intercourse per se, as surely the Church has always and everywhere taught and believed, is a chaste and holy act only within marriage, and not outside of it. Can you adduce counter-examples?

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 9:36:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

What does this say about how well we are forming people for the vocation of marriage in Australia today?

It says clearly that Catholic formation has been a complete dog's breakfast these 40 years or so. That's about half a lifetime, people.

It won't be fixed in a hurry.

I'm inclined to think that bishops should simply cut loose most of the "Catholic" schools and let them become independent schools, with the requirement that they change their names to a non-religious name and not in any way shape or form pretend to the title "Catholic."

They could keep a few running as Catholic schools, provided they can get all the practicing, orthodox Catholic teachers into those schools.

The next best suggestion I have is to raze them all to the ground.

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 9:42:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

There was also a longish period when getting married was more of a process than an event.

That is almost certainly the case.

However, marriage is a sacrament, according to Church teaching.

By its teaching authority, the Church has wisely changed its rulings about the process of becoming married, in order to strengthen the union. These fall under Church Law.

It is the Church alone who has the authority to make and change these rules as she sees fit, but at no time is she ever permitted to change the Laws of God.

At no point has the Church ever justified adultery or fornication.

The changes the Church has made about marriage over the centuries have, as far as I can tell, strengthened the sacrament.

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 9:43:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

And by "fornication" I mean the current usage of the word. I think we'd be hard pressed to find any point in history where the Church said it was just ducky for two non-married people to have sex with each other.

At Saturday, August 15, 2009 9:56:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

Perhaps it is our society that has gone astray with its normalizing of late marriage.

I think it's bizarre - utterly bizarre - that most people in our society are not settling down to married life by the time they are roughly in their mid-twenties.

I am aiming that all my children will be prepared for any vocation the Lord calls them to by the time they are 21. If they are not prepared fairly well by that time or 25 at the latest (some studies apparently have indicated that the human brain matures between 18 - 25 years of age) I will consider my child-rearing to have been quite defective.

I expect any of my children who are called to Holy Matrimony to do so at the opportune moment and not dither around. Studies and travel are all well and good (in their place) - but this societal inclination for prolonged adolescence is sickening.

Provided they are sufficiently mature, I would be delighted with my children marrying or entering religious life in their early twenties, or the priesthood in their late 20s (given that it takes some 7 years to train).

At Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:52:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

I think the concept of the Magisterium needs to be more carefully examined.

Strictly, those who have the Magisterium are the bishops of the Catholic Church. In common parlance, it is restricted to Papal pronouncements (since the Archbishops of Lusaka or Colombo, for instance, are not in the habit of giving public addresses on doctrinal subjects, nor of issuing encyclical letters to their provinces). Unfortunately, the old episcopal custom of writing "pastorals" has largely died out. Their place has not been filled by episcopal conference propaganda - since these are less than the sum of their parts, unlike, say, the decrees of provincial synods of old.

But most folk receive only the preaching of their local clergy - which, to be frank, is not generally of high standard. I would not equate the Magisterium with the pronouncements of any priest. But priests ought be keeping their parishioners informed about what the Church teaches, not just going on ad nauseam without saying much of interest.

I have been lucky in my short life to have heard good solid preaching, but I have also realized that this is not very widespread.

At Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:56:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

We come full circle: as a bishop I know stated, he realized in the early nineteen-seventies that catechesis was in dire straits, and the situation has remained parlous ever since, I would add.

The problem is not, I believe wholeheartedly, with the teachings of the Church on this or indeed on any other issue - the problem, to misquote Chesterton, is that religious and moral doctrine is not being proposed, nor being intelligently, forcibly, persuasively set forth, justified and explained for the acceptance of the faithful, who therefore have no real chance of following it as they hear so little about it or why on earth it should be followed.


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