Religious affiliation (RELP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable records a person's religious affiliation. Answering this Census question is optional.


    All persons


    ASCRG major review 

    Commencing in 2022, the ABS will undertake a major review of the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG) and the associated Religious Affiliation standard. The aims of this review are to update the ASCRG to reflect the modern Australian community; and to ensure the standard (the way the question is asked) is inclusive.

    Why the ASCRG needs to be updated

    While the current version of the ASCRG had some minor updates in 2016, it largely reflects the original 1996 version based on the social environment in Australia at that time. The Australian community has changed considerably over this time and the ASCRG and Standard both need to be reviewed to reflect this. The ABS has also received feedback from individuals and organisations identifying areas that need review. Data from the 2021 Census will further inform the review.

    Next steps

    The first round of public consultation is scheduled to commence in August 2022. At this time, the ABS will invite feedback through the ABS Consultation Hub, regarding the high priority areas (scope) of the ASCRG and the associated Standard for review. More information will be available at the ABS Consultation Hub in the coming months, including information how to participate in the review process. There will be another consultation process when the proposed changes are released in June 2023.

    If you would like more information, please email the ABS at

    The categories using the ASCRG are listed in groups below. The full list is available from the Data downloads on this page.

    1 Buddhism

    1 Buddhism  

    2 Christianity

     200Christianity, nfd
      2000Christianity, nfd
      2012Anglican Church of Australia
      2013Anglican Catholic Church
      2019Anglican, nec
      2070Catholic, nfd
      2071Western Catholic
      2072Maronite Catholic
      2073Melkite Catholic
      2074Ukrainian Catholic
      2075Chaldean Catholic
      2076Syro Malabar Catholic
      2079Catholic, nec
     211Churches of Christ
      2110Churches of Christ, nfd
      2111Churches of Christ (Conference)
      2112Church of Christ (Non-denominational)
      2113International Church of Christ
     213Jehovah's Witnesses
      2131Jehovah's Witnesses
     215Latter-day Saints
      2150Latter-day Saints, nfd
      2151The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
      2152Community of Christ
     221Oriental Orthodox
      2210Oriental Orthodox, nfd
      2212Armenian Apostolic
      2214Coptic Orthodox Church
      2215Syrian Orthodox Church
      2216Ethiopian Orthodox Church
      2219Oriental Orthodox, nec
     222Assyrian Apostolic
      2220Assyrian Apostolic, nfd
      2221Assyrian Church of the East
      2222Ancient Church of the East
      2229Assyrian Apostolic, nec
     223Eastern Orthodox
      2230Eastern Orthodox, nfd
      2231Albanian Orthodox
      2232Antiochian Orthodox
      2233Greek Orthodox
      2234Macedonian Orthodox
      2235Romanian Orthodox
      2236Russian Orthodox
      2237Serbian Orthodox
      2238Ukrainian Orthodox
      2239Eastern Orthodox, nec
     225Presbyterian and Reformed
      2250Presbyterian and Reformed, nfd
      2253Free Reformed
     227Salvation Army
      2271Salvation Army
     231Seventh-day Adventist
      2311Seventh-day Adventist
     233Uniting Church
      2331Uniting Church
      2400Pentecostal, nfd
      2401Apostolic Church (Australia)
      2402Australian Christian Churches (Assemblies of God)
      2403Bethesda Ministries International (Bethesda Churches)
      2404C3 Church Global (Christian City Church)
      2406International Network of Churches (Christian Outreach Centres)
      2407CRC International (Christian Revival Crusade)
      2411Foursquare Gospel Church
      2412Full Gospel Church of Australia (Full Gospel Church)
      2413Revival Centres
      2414Rhema Family Church
      2415United Pentecostal
      2416Acts 2 Alliance
      2417Christian Church in Australia
      2418Pentecostal City Life Church
      2421Revival Fellowship
      2422Victory Life Centre
      2423Victory Worship Centre
      2424Worship Centre Network
      2499Pentecostal, nec
     28Other Protestant
      2800Other Protestant, nfd
      2801Aboriginal Evangelical Missions
      2802Born Again Christian
      2803Christian and Missionary Alliance
      2804Church of the Nazarene
      2806Ethnic Evangelical Churches
      2807Independent Evangelical Churches
      2808Wesleyan Methodist Church
      2811Christian Community Churches of Australia
      2812Methodist, so described
      2813United Methodist Church
      2899Other Protestant, nec
     29Other Christian
      2900Other Christian, nfd
      2901Apostolic Church of Queensland
      2903Christian Science
      2904Gnostic Christians
      2905Liberal Catholic Church
      2906New Apostolic Church
      2907New Churches (Swedenborgian)
      2908Ratana (Maori)
      2911Religious Science
      2912Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
      2913Temple Society
      2915Grace Communion International (Worldwide Church of God)
      2999Other Christian, nec

    3 Hinduism


    4 Islam


    5 Judaism


    6 Other Religions

    6Other Religions 
     601Australian Aboriginal Traditional Religions
      6011Australian Aboriginal Traditional Religions
     605Chinese Religions
      6050Chinese Religions, nfd
      6051Ancestor Veneration
      6059Chinese Religions, nec
     611Japanese Religions
      6110Japanese Religions, nfd
      6112Sukyo Mahikari
      6119Japanese Religions, nec
     613Nature Religions
      6130Nature Religions, nfd
      6135Wiccan (Witchcraft)
      6139Nature Religions, nec
     69Miscellaneous Religions
      6992Church of Scientology
      6999Religious Groups, nec

    7 Secular Beliefs and Other Spiritual Beliefs and No Religious Affiliation

    7Secular Beliefs and Other Spiritual Beliefs and No Religious Affiliation
      7000Secular Beliefs and Other Spiritual Beliefs and No Religious Affiliation, nfd
     71No Religion, (so described)
      7101No Religion, so described
     72Secular Beliefs
      7200Secular Beliefs, nfd
      7299Secular Beliefs, nec
     73Other Spiritual Beliefs
      7300Other Spiritual Beliefs, nfd
      7301Multi Faith
      7302New Age
      7303Own Spiritual Beliefs
      7305Unitarian Universalism
      7399Other Spiritual Beliefs, nec

    Supplementary Codes

    Supplementary Codes 
    0Inadequately described 
     000Inadequately described
       0000 Inadequately described
    &Not stated  
     &&&Not stated 
       &&&& Not stated
    VOverseas visitor 
     VVVOverseas visitor
       VVVV Overseas visitor

    Number of categories:

    • One digit level: 10
    • Two digit/three digit level: 38
    • Four digit level: 151

    See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

    Question(s) from the Census form

    What is the person's religion?

    What is the person’s religion?
    What is Person 1's religion? Answering this question is OPTIONAL. Examples of 'Other': Lutheran, Salvation Army, Judaism, Taoism, Atheism. More information Person's religion No religion Catholic Anglican (Church of England) Uniting Church Islam Buddhism Presbyterian Hinduism Greek Orthodox Baptist Other (please specify)

    More information

    Additional information relating to the question on: What is the person's religion?
    What is Person 1's religion? Answering this question is OPTIONAL. Examples of 'Other': Lutheran, Salvation Army, Judaism, Taoism, Atheism. More information The religious groups listed were those most commonly reported in the 2016 Census. For all other religions, please select the 'Other (please specify)' option and enter the details in the box. If the person's religion is an Eastern Catholic religion such as Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Syro Malabar Catholic or Ukrainian Catholic, provide the full name of the religion in the 'Other (please specify)' box. If the person's religion is an Orthodox religion such as Macedonian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox or Armenian Orthodox, provide the full name of the religion in the 'Other (please specify)' box. People who have non-theistic religious beliefs or other life philosophies should record their response in the 'Other (please specify)' box. Examples of non-religious beliefs include Agnosticism, Atheism and Rationalism. If the person identifies with no religion at all, select the 'No religion' response.

    How this variable is created

    This variable is created from responses to the religious affiliation question, which are coded to the ASCRG.

    Respondents could use one of the mark boxes to indicate their religious affiliation or write the name of their religion in the text field. The question includes the 10 most common responses from the 2016 Census as mark boxes, as well as a write in text box. 

    Responses are coded accordingly:

    • Most responses are captured automatically from a mark box response.
    • Written responses are coded using a combination of automatic reading and coding processes.
    • Remaining responses require manual coding processes when they could not be coded or derived automatically.
    • When more than one religion or a mark box religion and a text response is recorded, the responses are accepted in the order they appear on the form and the extra response is rejected.
    • If a religion is not listed in the classification, it is coded to 'Inadequately described'.

    History and changes

    A question on religion has been included in all Australian censuses since 1911. Answering this question has always been optional, the very nature of which is provided for in legislation.

    The ASCRG was first published in 1996 and has been used to code religious affiliation for all Australian censuses since. Throughout this time, the classification has evolved to reflect the diverse religious affiliations identified amongst Australia’s population.

    From 1991 to 2011 the 'No religion' response category was the last response option. For 2016, a change was made to the question format, moving this category to the first response option. This change was made following the 2016 Census topic review process, where many submissions recommended changes to the Religious affiliation question. 'No religion' was again the first response option in 2021.

    For 2021, the response category order has been updated based on the most common responses in the 2016 Census:

    • 'Presbyterian' moved from 5th to 7th position
    • 'Islam' moved from 7th to 5th position
    • 'Greek Orthodox' moved from 8th to 9th position
    • 'Baptist' moved from 9th to 10th position
    • 'Hinduism' moved from 10th to 8th position.

    Changes have also been made to the 'other' examples given in the question instructions.

    Data use considerations

    The Census question is intended to measure religious affiliation, which may be different from a person's practice of or participation in a religious activity. It allows people to respond with secular or spiritual beliefs and to indicate if they have no religious affiliation at all.

    Data on religious affiliation is used for:

    • planning the location of educational facilities, aged care and other social services provided by religion-based organisations
    • planning the location of church buildings
    • the assigning of chaplains to hospitals, prisons, armed services, and universities
    • the allocation of time on public radio and other media
    • sociological research.

    The non-response rate for Religious affiliation (RELP) was 6.9% in 2021. This is a decrease from 9.1% in 2016.

    Related variable and glossary terms

    Data downloads

    Religious affiliation classification

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