* The proportion of Christians in the Australian population continues to decline. * Internationally, the proportion of Christians in developing countries is tending to increase, whereas the proportion of Christians in developed countries generally is decreasing.
* This paper first provides a brief overview of the current Australian demographic data and trends in relation to Christian denominations and other religious groups over the past 100 years. * Based on Christianity’s past contribution to Australian society, it then posits a framework for a way forward to contribute to the current and future issues and problems confronting Christianity in Australian society.
* Christianity had a significant impact on education and public morality in Australia whin the years of 1788-1900. In relation to public morality, I discuss the significance that the Christian church had on Australian society in the 1800’s by the establishing of the Temperance movement as well as several other actions involving education. * While Christianity played a crucial part in all aspects of Australian society throughout the pre-federation years 1788 to 1900, it had a significant impact on education and public morality.
* The influence of Christianity in education was evident through the establishment of a separate education system and, in public morality the formation of the temperance movement as well as other actions.
* Education was greatly influenced by Christianity during 1788 through to 1900. Settlers concerned to leave religious divisions in Britain believed that ties between church and state should be eradicated and that churches be supported by their own followers. * Subsequently, with numerous denominations supporting this idea, concerns were partly met by the granting of financial aid to the major religious groups, including the Church of England. * Individuals churches used this aid to maximise its religious and educational influence.
* Governor Bourke later extended the state financial aid and attempted to introduce government schools based on the national system in his native Ireland. * However, non-Anglican Protestants, who had formed in 1835 a society for promoting schools where the Bible would be a basis for general education, insisted on its wider use in the proposed national schools than was permitted in the Irish system. * Catholics supported the Governor’s proposal which further angered the Protestants. The successive alliance between the Anglicans and the Protestant denominations favourably brought about an anti-Catholic move to condemn concessions to a religious minority at the expense of national school systems based on the religious teachings of the Bible. * In the past, Christianity has made a sustained and valuable contribution to Australian communities.
* To focus on the changing religious demographics in Australia may be discouraging for many Christians, but Christianity again can make a valuable contribution to contemporary societies – if its attention is focussed on the community and not on itself.
* This paper proposes that Christians learn from the past and, rather than introspectively focussing on maintaining the two first positions described above, accept the third position and engage with existing communities by utilising communal practical life-style Christian principles.
* Perhaps from this new perspective, Christianity will become relevant and re-invigorate the traditional (Christian) Australian values as Described by Linder (2006), values of justice and a fair go, self-sacrifice for the good of the community, mateship based on selflessness, and neighbor love.