According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, just 25 per cent of marriages in 2015 were conducted by a minister of religion. This means that the other 75 per cent were conducted by a civil celebrant. This shows an overwhelming choice in favour of a non-religious service.
The 25 per cent of religious marriages is the lowest rate on record, with the data going back to 1902. There is no hint that the trend away from religion is slowing.
Interestingly, in the 1910s, over 95 per cent of marriages were conducted by a minister of religion. This was the peak use of religious services for those marrying. Since then, the trend away from religious services has been unrelenting and in 1999, civil marriages overtook religious ceremonies as the most common form of marriage.
Which begs the question of the authority of people of religion to have a dominant voice in the current discussion on marriage equality. There is no doubt the religious groups getting the coverage on the marriage equality issue are well funded and well organised with loyal supporters. Atheists and marriage celebrants, on the other hand, have no such organisational structure or financial power.
There are a few other quirky points about marriage in Australia.
Of people getting married in 2015, 28 per cent were getting remarried – ie, for a second or more time. This is against the teachings of most religions.
A massive 81 per cent of people getting married lived together before taking their vows. Another blow to the teachings of religion?
In 2015, of those getting married for the first time, there were 416 males and 1,464 females aged 16 to 18 years, with 495 males and 179 females aged over 75 years.
The two most popular months for marriages are October and March while the least popular are June and July.
And finally, the number of divorces rose 4.3 per cent in 2015, to over 48,000 with 47.5 per cent of those involving children under the age of 18. Unfortunately, this appears to be another blow for the religious push about the sanctity of the family.
Looks like when it comes to marriage, people are not only staying away from religious services in droves, but are also living a life of freedom, unshackled by the teachings and preachings of many religious faiths.
Think of that next time a person of religious appears in your news feed advocating a particular position in the survey on marriage equality.