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Census shows Christianity on decline

Published: 9:34PM Monday December 25, 2006

The latest census figures show the number of people who say they have no religion is significantly growing in New Zealand.

If the current trend continues, New Zealand could officially become a majority non-christian nation by the next census.

The latest census figures show that over a quarter of a million more Kiwis now consider themselves to have no religion than did in the previous census, which equates to one in three New Zealanders.

However for many, Christmas too has less religion.

"I was really amused to hear from one of our cathedral regulars that they were on a bus and overheard a couple of people talking about and really complaining about the church interferring in Christmas," said Peter Beck of the Anglican Cathedral.

Census figures from 2006 show 32% of New Zealanders now consider themselves to have no religion. The number of christians dropped 5% to 2.1 million.

Within those figures however, Catholic numbers grew nearly 5% to exceed half a million for the first time. Anglican numbers dropped by 30,000 and the number of Presbyterians dropped to less than one tenth of the population for the first time in a century.

While the census shows Christianity is on the decrease in New Zealand, the country is also becoming more religious with other religions on the up and up.

Other religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, have grown by around 60,000 due in large part to immigration.