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1266.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG), 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/1996   
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One, two or three, and four-digit codes are assigned to the first, second and third-level units of the classification respectively. The first digit identifies the Broad Group in which each Religious Group or Narrow Group is contained. The first two or three digits taken together identify the Narrow Group in which each Religious Group is contained. The four-digit codes represent the Religious Groups.

In most instances, three-digit codes represent the Narrow Groups of the classification. However, the Narrow Groups representing Pentecostal Religions, Other Protestant Religions, and Other Christian Religions each contain nine or more Religious Groups. It is therefore impossible for a three-digit code to uniquely identify the Narrow Group of each four-digit Religious Group in these instances. These Narrow Groups are therefore allocated two-digit codes which allow the unique identification of each Religious Group they contain. (Two-digit codes were not used for Narrow Groups generally because the Broad Group Christianity contains more than nine Narrow Groups.)

If processing or storage systems require all categories at a particular level of the classification to use the same number of digits, it is recommended the codes of the three two-digit Narrow Groups are back filled by use of the digit zero: 240 Pentecostal, 280 Other Protestant, 290 Other Christian.

The religious profile of Australia is likely to change over time because of factors such as changing migration patterns. From time to time, it may be necessary to add Religious Groups to, or delete Religious Groups from, the lists of Religious Groups currently separately identified in the classification as the number of adherents for particular religions changes. (All Religious Groups not separately identified in the classification are notionally included in a residual category.)

If a Religious Group needs to be added to (separately identified in) the classification structure, it will be allocated the next available four digit code, in the numerical sequence of codes, of the Narrow Group to which it is being added. If a Religious Group ceases to have a sufficient number of adherents in Australia to be separately identified, and it is consequently deleted from the classification, its code will not be reallocated to another Religious Group as this will complicate the storage of time series data.

The Religious Groups in Narrow Groups are, generally speaking, in alphabetical order. However, this order of units, while useful, is not imperative and it is not considered that the addition of new units, which may disrupt the alphabetical order, will affect the usefulness of the classification structure.

The ASCRG code scheme is devised so that any future changes to the classification structure are easily accommodated. However, in order that the classification remain a standard, users should not make changes to the structure. Users should contact the ABS and identify any apparent problems they encounter in the course of implementation, data collection, or data analysis.

Reserved codes for residual categories

In each Narrow Group a four-digit code, consisting of the two or three digits of the Narrow Group code followed by the digits 99 or 9, is reserved as a residual or nec category. All Religious Groups which are not separately identified in the classification are notionally included in the residual or nec category of the Narrow Group to which they relate. The classification currently has eight residual categories at the base level for Narrow Groups where ABS experience indicates they are required.

In each Broad Group, codes are also reserved for residual categories at the Narrow Group level. These codes consist of the Broad Group code followed by 9 or 99. These categories are termed 'Other' or 'Miscellaneous' categories and consist of separately identified Religious Groups which do not fit into other Narrow Groups on the basis of the classification criteria. The classification currently contains two such residual categories.

Provision exists in the code structure for the creation of additional residual categories. If experience indicates the need for further residual categories the ABS will create them and add them to the classification structure. It should be noted that residual categories are part of the classification structure and should not be created or used merely to 'dump' responses containing insufficient data to code to a separately identified category of the classification (see: Supplementary codes, and Coding rules).

Supplementary codes

Supplementary codes are used to process inadequately described responses in statistical collections. The codes are of three types:

      • four-digit codes ending with one or more zeros;
      • four-digit codes commencing with three zeros; and
      • the four-digit code 2001.

Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (nfd) codes and are used to code responses to a question about religion which cannot be coded to the detailed (Religious Group) level of the classification but which can be coded to a higher level of the classification structure.

For example, responses which cannot be identified as relating directly to a particular Religious Group, but which are known to be within the range of religions relating to a particular Narrow Group, are coded to that Narrow group. Such responses are allocated an nfd code consisting of the two or three-digit code of the Narrow Group followed by 00 or 0. For instance, the response 'Orthodox' does not contain sufficient information to be coded directly to any particular Religious Group, but it can be coded to Narrow Group 223: Orthodox, which encompasses all Orthodox religions. It is thus allocated the code 2230: Orthodox, nfd.

Similarly, responses which do not contain sufficient information to be related directly to a particular Religious Group, or to a Narrow Group, but which are known to be within the range of religions relating to a particular Broad Group, are coded to that Broad Group. Such responses are allocated an nfd code consisting of the one-digit code of the Broad Group followed by 000. For instance, the response 'Christian' does not contain sufficient information to be related directly to a Religious Group or a Narrow Group, but it can be coded to Broad Group 2: Christianity, which encompasses all Christian religions. It is thus allocated the code 2000: Christianity, nfd.

Thus, religion responses which are only codable at the Broad or Narrow Group levels of the classification can be processed within a collection coded at the Religious Group level.

There are some cases where the classification structure would, in theory, support the creation of a supplementary nfd code not already included in the range of valid supplementary codes used by the ABS. For example, no nfd code has been created for Narrow Group 207, Catholic, as the response 'Catholic' is properly allocated to the category 2071, Western Catholic.

Four-digit codes commencing with 000 are supplementary codes included for operational purposes to facilitate the coding of responses such as inadequately described religious affiliation, etc., which present particular problems in that they cannot be allocated a Religious Group, Narrow Group or Broad Group code.

An additional supplementary code 2001: Apostolic Church, so described, has been created to meet a particular need. The Apostolic Church (Australia) is a separately identified Religious Group (2401) in the Narrow Group Pentecostal (24). The Apostolic Church of Queensland (2901) and the New Apostolic Church (2906) are separately identified Religious Groups in the Narrow Group, Other Christian (29). The response 'Apostolic Church' lacks sufficient information to code it to the appropriate Narrow Group. To code such a response to 'Christian, nfd' would be to discard useful information. The ABS has, therefore, created the special supplementary code, 'Apostolic Church, so described' to deal with such responses. The code 2001 is appropriate because any responses relating to it must necessarily lie within Broad Group 2: Christianity. For publication purposes, it is, of course, perfectly proper to aggregate data coded to categories 2000 and 2001 to provide a total for Christian, nfd.

It should be noted that supplementary codes, including 2001, are not part of the classification structure. They exist for operational reasons only, and no data would be coded to them if sufficiently detailed responses were obtained in all instances. (See: Appendix 1. Supplementary codes for a full list of the supplementary codes.)

Coding index

Responses provided in statistical and administrative collections do not always relate directly to classification categories. A coding index is therefore necessary to act as a link between responses and the classification, enabling responses to be assigned accurately and quickly to the appropriate category of the classification.

The Coding Index has been developed to assist in the implementation and use of the classification and should be used when coding responses to questions relating to religious affiliation, religious denomination, etc. The Coding Index has been devised by reference to existing literature in the field, consultation with religious experts and ethnic and community groups, and by analysis of existing ABS data. It thus includes responses actually obtained in ABS statistical collections. It contains a comprehensive list of the most probable responses to questions relating to religion and their correct classification codes. See: Appendix 2 for the Coding Index sorted in alphabetical and Appendix 3 for numerical (code) order.

Coding rules

In developing the Coding Index a number of rules were followed in assigning index entries the correct classification code. It is recommended that these rules be adhered to when coding any response that does not appear in the Coding Index provided. Decisions were made in regard to index entries on the basis of appropriate research and examination of pertinent reference material. The coding rules are as follows.

Responses which relate directly to a Religious Group category are coded to that Religious Group. Such instances include responses which are an exact match with the Religious Group category title, responses which are an exact match with the Religious Group category title except in terms of alternative spelling, the use of abbreviations, etc., and responses which match the title in terms of the fundamental or basic words of the title and differ only in terms of qualifying or extraneous words.

Responses which relate to one of the entities which are separately itemised as subsets of Religious Groups in the Expanded Classification are coded to that Religious Group.

Responses which relate directly to a Religious Group because they describe an entity which is one of a group of religions comprising the Religious Group, or a subset of the Religious Group (denomination, administrative or organisational grouping, etc.) are coded directly to that Religious Group.

Responses which cannot be identified as relating to a separately identified Religious Group in the classification are assigned a residual category code, or a supplementary code as described above (see: Reserved codes for residual categories, and Supplementary codes).





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