Encouraging religion to "beget" off!
Every five years Statistics New Zealand takes an official count of the population and dwellings in New Zealand, which includes a question on “Religious Affiliation”. Since 1971 Christianity has been in steady decline, whereas those with “No Religion” have increased in an almost linear fashion.
Statistics New Zealand will conduct the next Census of Population and Dwellings on Tuesday, 8 March 2011. It looks certain that people who profess an affiliation with Christianity will be below the 50% mark for the first time since the original NZ census in 1867.
Note that the measure of “Religious Affiliation” simply means a cultural or social identification with a particular religion, and does not mean that a person is an active church-goer. So the number of active Christians will be far fewer than what the census figures indicate.
By the time the 2016 census comes around, people who declare they have “No Religion” could well be in the majority, and certainly will be by 2021. It seems there is nothing that Christians can do to shake this 40-year trend. Good riddance!
EDIT (19/01/2011): Can someone do a similar graph for Australia or the U.K, and send me a link? It would be interesting to compare the trends.