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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Religion >> Special Feature: Religious activity

Special Feature: Religious activity

Ministers of religion are on average older than other workers, work longer hours and receive less money.

In the 1991 Census, 12,400 ministers of religion were counted. Of these, 12,300 were usually resident in Australia. Ministers of religion represented 0.2% of all employed people.

The distribution of religious affiliations of ministers of religion does not reflect the distribution of stated affiliations of the population. For example, two-thirds of people who stated a religion identified as Anglican or Catholic but only one-third of ministers of religion were Anglican or Catholic.

For each religious group the number of adherents per minister varied considerably between religious groups, being lowest for those groups of a more evangelical nature. For example, there were 58 Salvation Army members for each Salvation Army officer, and 109 Pentecostals for each Pentecostal minister. It should be noted, however, that the number of adherents per minister and comparisons between religious groups are affected by the inclusion of non-participants in the count of adherents. This could be expected to have a greater effect on some groups than others. In particular, the high numbers of adherents per minister in the Anglican and Catholic churches may reflect the tendency for people who are not active in religion to identify with these faiths.

MINISTERS OF RELIGION, 1991

Ministers of religion

Median age
Proportion male
Overseas born
Adherents per minister
Religion
no.
years
%
%
no.

Anglican
2,215
47.5
91.6
21.1
1,804
Catholic
2,005
53.0
91.3
22.2
2,267
Uniting Church
1,555
51.9
85.7
20.2
890
Pentecostal
1,379
42.6
81.2
32.0
109
Baptist
1,229
43.4
89.4
29.0
224
Salvation Army
1,226
43.8
47.5
14.0
58
Presbyterian & Reformed
508
44.8
93.9
34.4
1,422
Lutheran
340
45.4
97.6
22.3
727
Seventh Day Adventist
286
49.0
97.6
40.5
163
Orthodox
160
49.4
96.9
86.5
2,968
Judaism
51
36.2
92.2
60.8
1,459
Jehovah's Witness
40
36.7
57.5
17.9
1,912
All religions
12,334
46.4
84.8
25.6
1,041

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Age and sex
In 1991, the median age of ministers of religion was 46 years, considerably higher than the median age of all employed people (36 years), reflecting the fact that many people join the ministry after first working in other occupations. Catholic and Uniting Church ministers had median ages over 50 years while Jehovah's Witness and Jewish clergy (of which there were few in total) had median ages under 40 years. Both the Catholic and Uniting Churches had high proportions of their ministers aged 55 years or over (43% and 39% respectively), together with relatively low proportions under 35 years (10% and 8% respectively) suggesting they may face a future low replacement rate in their ministries.

Ministers of religion are predominantly male, reflecting the male-oriented traditions of most faiths. The Salvation Army was the only exception in 1991 with over half of its ministers being female. This, in part, reflects the fact that when Salvation Army officers are ordained, their spouses also become officers. Between 1986 and 1991 there was a slight increase in the proportion of ministers who were female, from 13% to 15%.

Birthplace
In 1991, 26 per cent of all ministers of religion had been born overseas. However, the proportion of overseas born ministers varied between religions and denominations. Of the religious groups examined, Salvation Army (14%) and Jehovah's Witness (18%) ministers were the least likely to have been born overseas, while Judaism (61%) and Orthodox (86%) had the highest proportions of overseas born ministers. While this is obviously related to the proportions of overseas born adherents (see Trends in religious affiliation), it may also be related to the absence of Australian based training courses for some religious groups.

Qualifications
Religious groups vary in the training requirements for their clergy and not all training will necessarily lead to a qualification. In 1991, 16% of ministers counted in the Census had no recognised post-school qualifications, 28% held a degree and 12% had post-graduate qualifications as their highest post-school qualification. There was considerable variation between the religious groups examined. Seventh Day Adventist, Uniting Church, Lutheran and Presbyterian and Reformed ministers were most likely to have a degree or higher qualification, while Jehovah's Witness, Salvation Army and Pentecostal were the least likely. A large proportion (22%) of ministers either did not adequately describe or did not state their level of qualification. This may indicate that, to some extent, the type of training received by ministers was difficult to classify in terms of the common levels of educational attainment.

Many ministers had gained their highest qualification in a field other than religious studies although, in some cases, this qualification would have been gained before entering the ministry. In 1991, apart from religious studies, society and culture and education were the most common fields of study in which ministers were qualified.

QUALIFICATIONS OF MINISTERS, 1991

Degree or higher
No qualifications
Religion
%
%

Anglican
49.9
5.2
Baptist
43.3
11.1
Catholic
38.6
18.1
Jehovah's Witness
-
63.2
Judaism
34.6
26.9
Lutheran
59.1
9.9
Orthodox
26.3
34.4
Pentecostal
14.6
29.9
Presbyterian & Reformed
56.8
7.4
Salvation Army
8.6
31.0
Seventh Day Adventist
60.6
14.1
Uniting Church
60.6
5.4
All religions
39.3
15.9

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Hours worked
The work of ministers of religion ranges from their specific religious and administrative duties to the broader activities associated with the pastoral care of parishioners. As such many ministers work long hours although some may not consider all their activities as work. In 1991, 55% of ministers worked more than 48 hours week, considerably higher than the 15% of all employed persons who worked those hours, and also higher than the 48% of doctors who worked more than 48 hours a week.28% of ministers worked 40 hours a week or less compared to 71% of all employed persons. Part of the difference in the pattern of hours worked between ministers of religion and all employed persons is related to the different patterns of full-time and part-time work. 15% of ministers worked part-time compared to 26% of all employed persons.

Long hours of work were undertaken by ministers in most denominations. 67% of Lutheran ministers and 64% of Catholic ministers worked 49 or more hours a week, as did 59% of Anglican and Presbyterian and Reformed ministers. For most other denominations the proportion of ministers working 49 hours a week or more was closer to half. 72% of Jehovah's Witness ministers worked 40 hours or less a week, accounted for in large part by the fact that 44% of Jehovah's Witness ministers worked part-time.

HOURS WORKED BY MINISTERS, 1991

40 hours or less
49 hours or more
Religion
%
%

Anglican
23.8
59.0
Baptist
32.8
47.2
Catholic
24.1
64.3
Jehovah's Witness
71.8
12.8
Judaism
24.5
57.1
Lutheran
14.7
67.2
Orthodox
45.3
41.2
Pentecostal
33.3
48.7
Presbyterian & Reformed
25.8
58.7
Salvation Army
29.8
55.2
Seventh Day Adventist
28.9
52.2
Uniting Church
24.0
56.1
All religions
28.3
55.0

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Income
In spite of working long hours, ministers of religion generally have low incomes. In 1991, 41% of ministers had an annual income of $16,000 or less and 6% had over $35,000. Again, there was considerable variation between the different religious groups. Over 90% of Salvation Army and Jehovah's Witness ministers had an annual income of $16,000 or less as did 84% of Catholic clergy. In contrast, less than 10% of Seventh Day Adventist, Uniting Church and Lutheran ministers had annual incomes in this category. 49% of Jewish clergy and 11% of Anglican clergy had annual incomes of $35,000 or more. Low incomes should be interpreted in the context of some ministers receiving income in kind such as food, car and housing.

INCOME OF MINISTERS, 1991

$16,000 or less
$35,000 or more
Religion
%
%

Anglican
12.9
11.3
Baptist
30.5
6.5
Catholic
83.7
2.1
Jehovah's Witness
92.9
-
Judaism
18.4
49.0
Lutheran
7.5
5.5
Orthodox
32.7
3.1
Pentecostal
52.3
2.8
Presbyterian & Reformed
15.5
6.7
Salvation Army
94.3
-
Seventh Day Adventist
6.2
8.9
Uniting Church
8.4
9.8
All religions
41.4
6.0

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Religious activity

In the 1992 Time Use Survey, religious activity was defined as the sum of three components as follows:
  • religious practice which includes solitary prayer, religious meditation, apostolic work, participation in bible study or prayer groups, and attendance at religious services;
  • religious administration which includes participation in church councils or committees, overseeing church finances, organising parish social functions and fundraising activities, arranging vestments and flowers in church, teaching Scripture in Sunday school, and the supervision of children during religious services;
  • weddings, funerals and other rites which include christenings, bar mitzvahs, first communions, confirmations and coming of age ceremonies. While such activities may also be social rites of passage, all are considered religious activities for the purposes of the survey.


Religious activities of people
The Time Use Survey conducted in 1992 provides data on the time spent on religious activities by people aged 15 years and over. While it is not possible to calculate rates of participation in religious activity from the survey, nor to determine the religious affiliation of respondents, the data can be used to examine the types of activities pursued and the characteristics of participants. Some of these religious activities involve unpaid religious work and as such are a useful complement to the information on ministers of religion. In 1992, 10% of people reporting some form of religious activity were undertaking religious administration. The time spent per day by these people averaged almost two hours.

Of the people who reported spending time on religious activities, the vast majority (85%) were involved in the practice of their religion. They were almost three times more likely to practice their religion on weekends than during the week. On average, participants spent slightly more time on religious practice on weekends than on weekdays, 97 minutes a day compared to 84 minutes, respectively.

Although women were more likely to spend time on religious activities than men, those men who spent time on religious activities spent more time on them than women, 126 minutes a day on average for men compared to 93 minutes a day for women. However, women spent more time than men, on average, on religious administration, 128 minutes a day compared to 95.

The 1991 Census found that older people were more likely to report a religious affiliation than younger people. Correspondingly, the Time Use Survey found that they were more likely to be involved in religious activities, with people aged 60 years and over accounting for 30% of those participating in religious activities but only 15% of the total population. However, older participants devoted less time on average to their religious activity than younger participants. In 1992, participants aged 60 years and over spent an average of 91 minutes a day on religious activity compared to 94 minutes for the 45-59 years age group, 115 minutes for 25-44 year olds and 144 minutes for 15-24 year olds.

PROPORTION OF PARTICIPANTS IN RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER AND AVERAGE DAILY TIME SPENT, 1992

Religious practice
Administration
Weddings, funerals etc.
Total




Proportion
Time
Proportion
Time
Proportion
Time
Proportion(a)
Time
Sex
%
mins
%
mins
%
mins
%
mins

Male
85.0
106
11.5
95
12.2
197
100.0
126
Female
84.9
75
8.8
128
10.6
168
100.0
93
Total
84.9
88
9.9
113
11.2
181
100.0
106

(a) Percentages do not add to 100 because people may have been involved in more than one activity.

Source: Time Use Survey



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