Changed times in the business of religion
About three-quarters of adult Australians say they are affiliated to a religion, compared with a world average of 86%, according to data published in a feature article in Business Review Weekly (also known as BRW).
The article was written by Phil Ruthven, who is chairman of business research organisation Ibisworld.
But fewer than one-quarter of these people (a mere 23%) participate in church or religious activities in any three-month period.
This year, the revenue of religious organisations is expected to be about $795 million, or an average of $2 a week per household.
The figure for those who actually contribute would be higher, but even so, the average remains less than the cost of a packet of cigarettes a week. In stark comparison, Australians this year are expected to spend more that $1.8 billion - more than double the revenue of religious organisations - on sexual services.
None the less, we need to take other things into account. First, the business of religion is possibly more about education these days than church attendance and services. Revenue from church schools of various denominations (including the Australian Catholic University) is about $6.8 billion this year. To this we can add volunteerism, for churches and their schools, which has a substantial imputed value - probably at least $500 million a year. Then there are church-owned hospitals, nursing homes, aged-care facilities, residential and non-residential care services with revenue in total of about $2.5 billion.
The article says that "business done in God's name" accounts for more than $10 billion, of which going to church and giving money to it account for less than 10%.
Changed times in the business of religion (Business Review Weekly 2/12/04)
MORE STATISTICS STORIES
People who belong to "no religion" are second largest religious group in Canada (Catholic News Agency 2/12/04)
3 Dec 2004