Vicar ties faith falloff to quakes

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Lyttelton has topped the list as Christchurch's most secular suburb.

According to 2013 census data, about 60 per cent of the town's 1500 residents are not affiliated with any religion - a jump from about 40 per cent in 2006.

More than half of residents in North Beach, South Brighton, New Brighton, Styx, Ensors and Beckenham put no religion on their census forms also.

Citywide, the number of non-religious people has increased by about 10 per cent since 2006.

In Lyttelton, Holy Trinity Church vicar Neil Struthers said the drop in faith was not surprising given the extent of earthquake damage to the area's churches and its ageing population.

"We have lost all our historic churches. It's all in a flux at the moment," he said. The church had a congregation of about 30 parishioners, compared with about 50 in 2006.

Struthers said many of the young people who had moved into the area did not appear interested in religion. A lot of them were put off by the "bigotry" of the past and the fact that a lot of churches were historically "institutions of division", he said.

"Many of them are actually very interested in spirituality and are quite spiritual people, they're just not interested in the practice of the Christian religion."

Nationwide, Christianity appears to have shed hundreds of thousands of devotees since 2006, while the number of non-religious people has risen strongly.

Four out 10 Kiwis now declare themselves non-religious, putting New Zealand among the most secular countries in the world.

The most religious suburbs in Christchurch, according to 2013 census data, include Holmwood, Belfast South, Deans Bush, Mairehau North, Bryndwr and Hawthornden.

Just over 1 per cent of Christchurch residents are Buddhist (4113 people) or Hindu (3276 people) and just under 1 per cent are Muslim (2634 people).

In New Zealand, religious affiliations are spread across hundreds of different faiths, from Greek Orthodox to Satanism.

Just under 2000 Kiwis subscribe to Rastafari ideals, about 1500 put down Wiccan, 850 follow Satanism and 300 belong to the Church of Scientology.

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- The Press

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