According to the survey, just over a third of New Zealanders describe themselves as religious, even though the last Census has more than 50% of people saying they have a religious affiliation, be it Christian or Buddhist or Muslim and so on.
As always it would be good to know what questions were asked of the respondents. We can get some idea from these 'results': Fifty-three per cent say they believe in God (although half of those say they have doubts), 20 per cent believe in some form of higher power and about third say they don't believe or don't know.
However, 60% (of parents, presumably) say they would prefer children to have a religious education in state primary schools - with strongest support for teaching about all faiths. Hmm, your children can be religious, but you as an adult don't have to be.
In the media release, Professor Philip Gendall, who led the research team, says the view that
Professor Gendall adds, “There is evidence that New Zealanders have become less religious over the last 17 years; however, most New Zealanders believe in God and there has been no change in the proportion of those who say they believe in a higher power.” So that bit about the 'sharp rise' was a bit of a headline rather than a reality? New Zealanders have become less religious but most still believe in God: does this mean that believing in God doesn't mean you're religious? I guess it could well do...
“So perhaps the apparent decline in religiosity reflects a decline in traditional religious loyalties - rather than a decline in spirituality as such.” And that may be much closer to the truth, a truth which churches are finding everywhere. People may not align themselves so readily to a particular denomination these days, and there is evidence that many people still regard themselves as Christians (as others probably regard themselves as Buddhists) without actually going to a church (or a Buddhist temple).
The study found that significant numbers of New Zealanders believe in the supernatural with 57 per cent believing in life after death, 51 per cent believing in heaven and 36 per cent believing in hell.
A quarter of those surveyed think star signs affect people's futures, 28 per cent say good luck charms work and 39 per cent believe fortune-tellers can foresee the future.
If religion is 'dead,' superstition is alive and well!