Tag Archives: poll

Is New Zealand a Christian nation?

This question comes up from time to time. Those arguing that it is admit  the proportion of New Zealanders who are Christian is declining but claim it is still a majority.

A recent survey commissioned by the Bible Society (Bible Engagement in New Zealand) really doesn’t support this claim. Unlike the national census (which provides a wide choice of religions) this survey asked only “would you describe yourself as a Christian?” This survey of 3400 New Zealanders found 46% consider themselves Christian (45% answered no and 9% preferred not to say).

Of course, when you get figures like these close to 50% one can argue about how to deal with the “don’t knows” and “won’t says.” After all, one could make the situation look better by saying that 50.5% of those answering the question are Christian. This is often done with the census results. For example it’s often claimed that the 2006 census showed  55.6% of New Zealanders are Christian. But, more correctly, it was 55.6% of those answering the religious affiliation question, but actually only 51.2% of the total responses.

Double dipping

Double dipping also influences the figures. Apparently some Christians are so enthusiastic that belong to several different churches. I can believe that as I have a relative who used to attend two different churches each Sunday because it gave him two different experiences.

In 2006 140,000 New Zealanders claimed to be adherents of more than one Christian religion. This caused an overestimation of the proportion of Christians. When corrected for double dipping the 2006 census showed that:

53.1% of those answering the religious affiliation question were Christian, or

49.5% of the total population described themselves as Christian.

Take home message

So, although the 2006 census data are sometimes manipulated to claim almost 56% of the population are Christian, in reality only 49.5% were prepared to describe themselves that way. The 2008 Bible Society survey (46% Christian) appears to confim this.

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Most Americans do accept evolution

We seem to be told again and again that the majority of Americans reject evolutionary science. But is this true? After all people often draw unwarranted conclusions from polling data.

A recent Gallup poll seems to contradict the popular view. It’s worth considering this poll because the questions asked are similar to those used in last year’s UMR Research poll showing 75% of New Zealanders accept evolution (see New Zealand supports evolution).

The questions asked in the Gallup poll were: “Which comes closest to your views:

  1. Humans developed over millions of years, God guided;
  2. Humans developed over millions of years, God had no part;
  3. God created humans as is within the last 10,000 years.”

Results showed 50% accepted evolution while 44% rejected it.

In fact this level of acceptance has not changed markedly over the last 26 years. Polling using these questions shows creationist support varying between 43 and 47% since 1982.

Support of theistic evolution

We can also compare the proportion of theists who accept evolution in the two countries. This poll indicates 45% of US theists accept evolution. In New Zealand the figure is 53%.

However, a worrying conclusion from this poll is the role that organised religion may play in promoting unscientific beliefs.  The level of support for creationism rose from 24% amongst those who seldom or never attended church, to 50% amongst those attending monthly, and 70% amongst those attending weekly.

I can appreciate that people may attend church regularly for a sense of community, social support and spiritual satisfaction. But it is sad if this turns them against scientific knowledge.

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See also:
Republicans, Democrats Differ on Creationism

Do you believe in God?

Apparently most people (54%) in the world don’t. That’s if you believe the results coming out of the online poll at YesNoGod.com.

Yes, I know. Polls are inherently unreliable and on-line polls even more so.

Still the results are interesting. Partly because they are listed country by country. And the numbers voting are also given for each country.

When I voted the results for New Zealand showed 69% answering No. The No result for North America was 57% and, interestingly, for Vatican City 50%. Only 2 people from Vatican City had voted – but even so!

I’m sure the figures are going to fluctuate widely as groups organise to crash the poll. The results don’t mean much but I will check back from time to time.

See also:
Too much faith in our census

Similar articles:
Non religious in Australia and New Zealand
Religious diversity includes “non-believers”
Trends in religious belief in New Zealand
New Zealand supports evolution
God’s not as popular as we thought