Catholics biggest denomination but not fastest-growing


According to the last census, Catholics are now the largest Christian denomination in New Zealand. But they are not the fastest- growing.

“Here’s the interesting thing,” writes Narelle Henson, “a group called simply “Protestants” by Statistics New Zealand grew by 26.4 percent from the previous census in 2006.”

A group called “Evangelical, Born Again and Fundamental” grew by 11.2 percent.

In a recent interview on RNZ, Graeme Morris from Victoria University said he was fascinated by the fact that the Catholic Church’s size as a percentage of the population has remained consistent from the late nineteenth century through to the present day.

Morris suggested three reasons for this phenomenon:

  • The inter-linking between the Catholic religion and Irish culture
  • The effectiveness of the Catholic education system
  • The arrival of immigrants from countries where the Catholic Church is very strong.

He went on to say it is not all good news for the Catholic religion because, in terms of percentages, it is “treading water”. It’s not growing in terms of the size of the percentage of our population.

On the other hand, as Henson points out in her opinion piece, the evangelical religions are growing.

This growth was the topic for another recently published article, Am I at a rock concert or religious gathering?

The trend has caught the eye of experts around the world because it bucks the secularisation theory made popular in the 1950s which predicted that, in modern, educated societies, devout belief would not survive.

Henson says that the same trend appears to be happening in America.

According to the Pew Research Centre, traditional religion is in sharp decline.

But Chosen Religion (based on conversion) seems to be growing, in countries both modern and modernising.

And secularism’s growth is flattening out.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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