A friend pointed me at an article in Massey News about the religious beliefs of New Zealanders. While not directly comparable to the Associated Press international survey which showed that America was unmatched in the west for its religiousity, it still provides some useful data.
According to the article,
- 67% of New Zealanders say they believe in god
- 61% believe in an afterlife
- 32.5% never pray
- 30% go to church on a regular basis
- 15% go to church at every week
This compares reasonably well with census data, in which almost 4 in 10 did not specifiy a religion (either choosing "no religion" or "refuse to state").
A lack of definitions makes comparison with the above-mentioned survey fuzzy at best. According to the internals, the international survey had six possible answers for the "belief in god" question, with the combined total of the bottom two ("believe with doubts" and "absolute belief") being reported as definite belief. I suspect the New Zealand figure goes quite a bit further up the scale than this, possibly into the lower realsm of fuzzy "higher power" ness. Taking this into account, we're probably comparable with Australia - though probably not as atheistic as the UK (and nowhere near France). The Church attendance figure seems low (half the rate in the US), but it was never very high to start with. Reportedly, the 1881 census showed that only 20% of New Zealanders attended every week even back then, when pretty much everyone nominally professed some religious denomination and only 7% did not specify a religion. The
There was also an interesting qualitative point:
Twenty is the critical age for making decisions on going to church. While teens may have gone to church primarily for social reasons, at 20 it seems they begin to question the religious value.
This is rather interesting in light of some responses to the Seatoun School affair.