Religion and belief system in Australia post 1945 Flashcards Preview

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Discuss how Aboriginal spiritualities are determined by the dreaming


- The Dreaming is expressed in the complex network of relationships, rights and obligations within aboriginal society’s
- Kinship defines ways of relationships within and between family groupings, which is determined by the dreaming and it is connected to spirituality
- Provides systems of moral and financial support within the community and defines roles in raising children
o E.g. in some tribes constellations reflect patterns for social relationships


  • The ritual and artistic expression of the dreaming. Connected to spirituality as it expresses it.
  • Important ceremonial life concepts are art, music, story, and gender
  • Male and female initiation ceremony differ between tribes, Learn about skin relationships, kinship, and ceremonial obligations as well as begin looking for female partners.

- Country is a geographical and spiritual place where kinship connections are established and ceremonial life is enacted by different individuals and groups according to their obligations
- Respect must be shown when using the land
- Formal protocols of entry and crossing land exist
o e.g. acknowledgment of country


discuss the continuing effect of
dispossession on Aboriginal
spiritualities in relation to:

  • Inability to carry out sacred duties and rituals linked to the land
  • Could not draw spiritual power of the dreaming
  • Much of tribal lore was lost
  • Spiritual identity and totemic identity lost


  • Loss of identity, language, and belonging to each other
  • Loss of links to totems, skin names
  • Roles of tribal elders undermined or destroyed; the breakdown of the kinship system as tribes was isolated

- No cultural or spiritual transmission possible
- Families taken apart
- Many religious traditions lost as not passed down generations
- Missionisation to ‘save’ aboriginal people and make them Christians
o Forced to take new names, speak English and become Christian


analyse the importance of the
Dreaming for the Land Rights

  • Critical importance in relation to Aboriginal spirituality because the dreaming is inextricably connected with the land
  • Each aboriginal person is connected to the land through their totem
  • Some specific sacred sites have more importance to some tribes. There are special ceremonies and traditions tied to these areas
  • The identity of aboriginal people is linked to the land and hence the land is like a mother to each aboriginal person

outline changing patterns of religious
adherence from 1945 to the present
using census data

  • Religious expression in Aus changed significantly since 1945.
    o Aus has become a microcosm of religious life in the world
  • Increasingly universal nature of Australian society has been created out of spite of an isolationist and racist history
    o Commonwealth Gov restrictive immigration policy reflects ideal of a Homogenised white Australia
  • Aus remains in essence a Christian nation
    o public holidays reflect western Christian rituals
    o Christianity still claims to be largest religion but others are rising. Some call Australia now a post-Christian society
  • ‘no religion’ (30%) overtook catholic (23%) as largest religion since 2011 suggesting secularisation
  • overall strong diversity is shown with Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all being around 2%

account for the present religious

landscape in Australia in relation to Christianity as the major religious tradition, and immigration


Christianity as the major religious
- In the 1986 Australian census, the Catholic Church became the largest denomination and has retained that position.
- Despite a decline in the percentage of Christians, Christianity is by far the major religious tradition in Australia and is reflected in the lifestyles of many Australians, the legal and political system, and the dominant culture.
-Large change seen with the government allowing Gay marriage in 2017 despite conflicting religious ideals.

- Extremely important in influencing Aus religious profile post-1945
- Aus has become increasingly diversified with all types of faiths represented
- In 2018 India was the largest source of new permanent annual migrants to Australia hence growing the Hindu culture in Australia
-Sri Lankans brought both Buddhism and Hinduism,
-while refugees from Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia and Bosnia brought Islam.
Australia was not only a multicultural society; it was also to become a multi-faith society.
- Although still some religious tension, e.g. Islamic/Christian tension
o 26% of aussies born overseas


describe the impact of Christian

ecumenical movements in Australia


The national council of Churches (NCCA) (national level ecumenical movement)
- Comprises of 19 member churches representing catholic, Anglican, orthodox, protestant and Lutheran denomination
- Examples of their initiatives
o The NCCA recently held a national day of prayer, uniting Christian denominations against the spread of the COVID-19 virus
o Christmas bowl – for 70 years they have passed bowl around Christmas dinner table to collect money for homeless

NSW Ecumenical council (local level ecumenical movement)
- Works with churches to come together in missions to “rediscover the visible unity of the church… express common voice of concern in society and to work together”
- Aims to keep peace and justice between all denominations
- Initiatives include
o Victorian ecumenical council had a collective prayer for peace on ANZAC day in a Melbourne cathedrel


evaluate the importance of interfaith

dialogue in multifaith Australia

  • Education to dispel fear and bigotry
  • Not about making all religions the same
  • Allows religions to have better understanding of others, increasing tolerance
  • Creates respect and appreciation for religious diversity’s
  • Breaks down stereotypes and prejudices
  • In a society with a growing ‘no religion’ interfaith dialogue gives religion more of a positive role in modern society.
  • Examples of organisations…
    o (ANDCJM) Aus national dialogue of Christians, Jews and Muslims doing collaborative interfaith prayers for corona virus lockdown giving people support and reflection in their time
    o Collective prayer session for the victims after the Christchurch mosque shooting

examine the relationship between
Aboriginal spiritualities and religious
traditions in the process of

  • Aimed at a national effort in reconciliation such as dispossession of land and stolen generation
  • Reconciliation – to recognise mistakes and injustices perpetuated in the past towards indigenous people
  • National sorry day - annual event held to remember and commemorate mistreatment of country’s indigenous population


  • The World Council of Churches will join many in honouring indigenous communities across the world on 9 August. Designated by the United Nations as “International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
  • TEAR – The Evangelical Allegiance Fund – aims to provide ATSI with full potential for life

- ‘stand up’ program taking Jewish youth to remote indigenous communities to educate and help out the community

account for the present religious
landscape in Australia in relation to 
– denominational switching
– rise of New Age religions
– secularism

- Reasons for switching include
o Wanting more modern or relatable service
o Wanting change or curious of what other denominations are like
- Christianity has decreased from 61% (2011) to 52% (2016)
- Catholicism has seen a steady decrease from 25.3% (2011) to 22.6% (2016)
- Anglicanism has seen a drastic decrease from 17% (of AUS population) (2011) to 13% (2016). 51% of Anglican adherents are also over the age of 60, leading to the point that Anglican faith is built mainly upon the older generation. This can be attributed to the denominational switching by youths. This is evident within the increase in Pentecostalism (0.3%-1.1%) and the orthodox church (0.2%-2.6%)
- The uniting church has also seen a decrease in adherents as shown by the sharp decrease of 5% (2011) to 3.7% (2016).

- disillusionment due to devastating effects of war and 1960’s counter culture-movement
- post war prosperity lead to value of materialism over outdated religious values.
- Focus on contemporary ideas which go against religion
- Emphasis on freedom of expression
- Satisfying individual needs rather than communal needs
- Examples of new age religion include
o Yoga
o Astrology
o Scientology

- the belief that religion has a place and meaning but should be kept separate from the state, government control
- Secular groups include
o Atheism
o Agnosticism
o Humanism
- Evidence is seen from
o census data
o society no longer revolves around religious stricture
- Example, Marriage ceremonies – growing move away from religious marriages
- Developments in science and technology, they inform people on how/why things happened and issues of morality

outline the importance of the following
for the Land Rights movement:
– Native Title
– Mabo
– Wik

Mabo decision - 1992

  • Won the first case for the aboriginal people about land rights, recognising native title
  • The decision overthrew the legal fiction of terra nullius that was set in 1788 by the Europeans

Wik Decision - 1996
- Stated that there was the possibility for pastoral rights (modern day land ownership) and native title could coexist

Native title amendment act – 1998

  • The coalition elected a policy of amending the native title amendment act to make it more ‘workable’
  • Allows states and territories to legislate their own native title regimes
  • Legislation helps to a limited extent – in recognition but not in the revival of the dreaming due to effects of dispossession

Example – Uluru climbing ban
- While land rights were previously shared between pastoral and native title, pastoral land rights were removed at the end of 2019, allowing for complete native title