The Religious Affiliation Standard codifies the concepts, definitions, and methods recommended by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for collecting, processing and presenting quality statistics about the religious beliefs and practices to which people adhere or the religious groups to which they belong.
Religious Affiliation is used to assess the religious composition of the Australian population and can be used with a range of other variables to assist in measuring cultural diversity. The variable provides a means for standardising the way data about religious and spiritual beliefs are collected and disseminated. The Religious Affiliation variable is used by various sectors of Australian society, including religious organisations (for planning their services to members), health and aged care facilities, educational organisations, government agencies and in social research.
Religious Affiliation is considered sensitive information and answering a question about it is optional in all ABS collections (see section 14(3) of the Census and Statistics Act 1905).
Name of standard
This is the Religious Affiliation standard.
Nominally, Religious Affiliation is defined as the religious or spiritual beliefs and practices to which a person adheres or the religious group to which a person belongs.
Operationally, Religious Affiliation is defined as the religion to which a person nominates they have an affiliation. This may include other spiritual beliefs or no religious or spiritual beliefs.
Discussion of issues
Religious Affiliation is self assessed. It is not designed to measure the level of adherence to beliefs or participation in practices common to the nominated religious affiliation.
To improve data quality, it is important to advise respondents that if they do not identify with a religion or spiritual belief, they may answer the question by selecting the 'No religion' option.