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‘End is nigh’ for the church • Sunday December 29, 2002

The Sunday Mail (Australia), Dec. 29, 2002
By Elissa Lawrence

The mainstream churches face an uncertain future as Australians turn away from religion in droves.

Religious scholars have warned that Christian churches have become so out of touch with modern life that their end could come within two decades.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a quarter of all Australians see themselves as having no religion.

Dr David Tacey, of Melbourne’s La Trobe University, said interest in New Age religions and Eastern beliefs such as Buddhism — Australia’s fastest-growing religion — would increase to the detriment of mainstream religions.

He said people were still seeking spiritual enlightenment but were not finding it in traditional places.

“Attitudes in the church are antiquated . . . they have as much chance of surviving as the Titanic,” he said.

The number of people who regularly attend church ranges from 7 per cent to 13 per cent.

“If Myer or David Jones was attracting 7 per cent of the shopping public, the managers would have had a meeting and shut it down years ago,” Dr Tacey said.

“Within the next 10 to 20 years, most of the main-line churches will be appropriately down on their knees, praying for their own survival.”

He also warned fundamentalism could fill the “religious vacuum”.

“The danger is that fundamentalist groups will come up with fanatical ideas and that’s a worry with fundamentalism and its links with terrorism.”

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