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Abstract

In recent decades, Australia’s Christian denominations have experienced mixed fortunes. The proportion of the population identifying with the mainline Protestant denominations has declined markedly. The Catholic Church, buoyed by its schooling system, has not experienced such a decline in affiliation, even though attendance at Mass has fallen markedly. Across this same time span, the Pentecostals have experienced rapid growth followed by a period of consolidation and stability. Such religious change is the net effect of interrelated demographic, cultural and church dynamics. This chapter uses data from the Australian Census and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA) to compare the demographic characteristics of the Pentecostals with other major denominations in an effort to better understand their place in Australia’s religious firmament. These data sources, which capture those who do not attend frequently, are further reaching than statistics collected solely from church attenders. This analysis reveals that while the proportion of the population who identifies as Pentecostal has remained relatively stable, it is a religious movement that is experiencing a very distinct change from within. This chapter will present the case that the Pentecostals have maintained their proportion of the Christian “market share” not only because of their worship style, politics and philosophies, but because they have connected with particular segments of the changing Australian community.

In: Australian Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements
In: Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion