Fewer Kiwis identify with Christianity – report

Long Lunch 21/06/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

Fewer Kiwis are identifying with the Christian faith, according to a new report.

The report, titled Faith and Belief in New Zealand, revealed that Kiwis who identify as Christian has dropped by 10 percent in the past five years, with 35 percent of all New Zealanders have no religion or spiritual belief.

The report was commissioned by Wilberforce Foundation, an Auckland-based Christian organisation.

Wilberforce advisor Chris Clarke told RadioLIVE that some factors behind the drop in religion include relevance to our lives, and for younger Kiwis – not having grown up with religious parents.

According to Mr Clark, New Zealanders are seeking religion where they are respected and where religion isn’t “rammed down their throat”. Kiwis want to see authentic religious figureheads, rather than celebrities.

Church abuse was found to be the greatest negative influence on people’s perceptions of Christians and Christianity, with 76 percent of respondents indicating that abuse was a massive/significant influence.

The report also found that the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality had an enormous negative impact on how Kiwis perceived Christianity.

“It’s a major reason, particularly for young people, why they won’t engage in the conversation,” Mr Clarke said.

But the report saw that all generations believed Maori culture has contributed to the strong sense of family in New Zealand and has embedded a deep respect for elders in the community.

Mr Clarke explained that New Zealanders, especially younger ones, are becoming more interested in Maori spirituality. More young Kiwis responded that Maori spirituality has helped provide a “better understanding of the New Zealand story”.

Mr Clarke believes that the report can serve churches across New Zealand with better understanding today’s Kiwis, and how better to reach them.

“We wanted to start the conversation – we didn’t want to conclude it.”

Listen to the full interview with Chris Clarke above.

The Long Lunch with Carly Flynn in for Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.