A new study has found that four out of five Australians are open to spiritual conversations which may involve views other than their own.
The study – by McCrindle Research and commissioned by Alpha Australia – also showed younger generations are the most open to having those conversations.
The findings were drawn from a survey of 1000 Australian adults. It revealed that four in ten Aussies were either extremely (20 per cent) or very (18 per cent) open to talking about different faiths, compared with 50 per cent of Gen Z and 44 per cent of Gen Y in these categories.
Interestingly, the poll found men were less likely than women to be open to a spiritual conversation. One in four men (24 per cent) said they were strongly committed to their current views and did not want to explore other faiths.
In contrast, only 17 per cent of women were unwilling to engage with different spiritual views.
Head of Alpha Australia Melissa Dwight puts some of the level of interest in spirituality – especially among young people – down to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Past research has indicated 49 per cent of Australians never have a spiritual conversation and previous research indicated they weren’t open to religious conversations,” Dwight told Eternity.
“There is a great deal of uncertainty and fear as we as a country rebuild.
“Many Australians have come to the conclusion that there is value in the exploration of who we are spiritually and that individualism and materialism are ultimately deeply dissatisfying.”
This shift towards greater openness has been noticed by Alpha, which reports increased online searches and participation in its online Alpha course. According to Dwight, people have felt safe to explore “big questions” and “connect with spiritual matters from the control and safety of their chosen location”.
“I hope it will increase as we take the opportunity … This is the greatest season of evangelism potential we have seen.”
Insights from the new study and Dwight correlate to research conducted in 2020 by Mainstreet Insights (a partner of McCrindle Research). It found one in three Australians spent time thinking about God during the pandemic.
The survey (again of 1000 Australians) showed that of respondents who don’t attend church, one in three said they are also praying more and one quarter of all respondents started reading the Bible.
Meanwhile the Christians in that survey reported that the pandemic resulted in a boost in their prayer, Bible reading and church attendance.