Religious tolerance is vital for a well-functioning pluralistic, secular democracy. The ability to tolerate even undesirable ideas, ensures harmony.

In order to determine the attitudes of Australians towards religion, the Centre for Independent Studies commissioned YouGov Galaxy to poll more than 1000 Australians, with the data weighted by age, gender, and region, and also according to the religious affiliation question posed in the 2016 census.

This paper provides an insight into how Australians perceive religion and religious freedom. The results reveal Australians are viewing religion as mostly an individual right to belief but are sceptical of religious organisations.

Key findings:

  • 78% of Australians believe that respecting religion is important in a multicultural society. This was the majority position regardless of religious affiliation.
  • Most Australians (54%) believe religious perspectives should be permitted in public debates even when others find them offensive.
  • 56% of Australians also believe people should not be allowed to ridicule the religious views of others.
  • The majority (64%) do not think organisations should be allowed to refuse to employ someone on religious grounds.
  • Most respondents (52%) believe religion divides Australians more than it unites us. Coupled with the 78% who agree respecting religion is important, it suggests they accept some degree of division in society so that individuals can be free to hold their religious beliefs.
Publication Details
CIS Policy Paper 27
Publication Year: