A Williamstown church minister who uses Star Wars to preach redemption believes people haven’t lost their religion – but simply that they were “just more honest” in the 2016 census.
Reverend Avril Hannah-Jones, from Williamstown Uniting Church thinks that previously people may have answered according to their parents’ religion.
“I don’t think there’s been such a great change in the number of people who are ‘no religion’ but I think a lot of the time people have ticked the church they were born in to or baptised in to,” Dr Hannah-Jones said. “There’s always been a huge difference between what people tick on the census and the people who actually belong to a church or go to a church.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics released the results of the 2016 census last week. In Hobsons Bay, the most common responses for religion were no religion (30.9 per cent), Catholic (27.1), not stated (8.6), Anglican (7) and Eastern Orthodox (5.7).
In Maribyrnong, the tallies were no religion (36.4 per cent), Catholic (20.2), not stated (10.4), Buddhism (8.3) and Islam (4.3).
Dr Hannah-Jones, whose church welcomes the LGBTIQ community and supports marriage equality, said there were many misconceptions about Christians.
“I think the majority of Christians are actually in favour of marriage equality, but we do get some very loud church leaders and very loud Christian politicians opposed to it,” she said. “I think most people who don’t have much contact with churches assume that’s what all Christians believe.”
She brings people into the fold using science fiction and popular culture to appeal to worshippers. “I think the first six
Star Wars films are about the fall of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader, and then through his son, Luke, believing in him, his redemption and ultimate forgiveness,” she said. “I think one of Australia’s great strengths is that we are a multi-faith society … It is wonderful that we are not dominated by any particular faith and that we are able to live together.”
The Jedi religion is classified as “other” in the census.