The Federation Press

Australian Economy and Society 2002

Religion, morality and public policy in international perspective, 1984-2002


How many people believe in God? How often do Australians go to church? How many people think that species emerge from the process of natural selection by survival of the fittest?

This volume concerns a range of moral issues and worldviews, focussing on two worldviews that are fundamentally important in Australia at the dawn of the 21st century: Christian belief and the scientific worldview.

This is a great starting point for discussions on today’s hottest ethical issues. The book presents a dispassionate, balanced presentation of excellent public opinion data spanning the range of views in Australia today. Classes on contemporary Australian society, and classes on values and ethics will both discover a wealth of material in this book on topics ranging from homosexuality to abortion to genetic modification to foreign aid to national identity.

It describes these community bioethics and examines the worldviews and moral reasoning processes that Australians use to arrive at their ethical judgments. Accessible graphical presentations of results are underpinned by state of the art statistical analyses. International, comparative data are also presented on many issues.


This volume is a reference book primarily about religion and morality in Australia, looking at recent behaviour and opinions up to 2002 and trends since 1984. It is packed with useful findings based on large national samples ... Some of the chapters have interesting international comparisons ... Overall, the book provides an important contribution on how Australians think and act on a wide variety of religious and moral issues. Anyone interested in religion and morality in Australia will use the book as a valuable resource. - International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol 17(4)

Table of Contents

Part I: Religion
Religious belief in Australia
Research note: Factor analysis
Research note: Going to church makes people happier
Keeping the faith? Catholics, Anglicans and other denominations in Australia
Christian belief and church attendance in 30 nations
Jonathan Kelley and Nan Dirk De Graaf
National context, parental socialisation and religious belief
Jonathan Kelley and Nan Dirk De Graaf
Australians’ views about the theory of evolution
Research note: Life on Mars
Religion and politics in 28 nations
Should clerics refrain from politics? Separation of church and state in Australia, with international comparisons

Part II: Morality and Public Policy
Attitudes towards homosexuality in 29 nations
Attitudes to abortion: Australia in comparative perspective
Jonathan Kelley, MDR Evans and Bruce Headey
Becoming a person: Australian public opinion on when an embryo is human
Stem cells: Public opinion on treatment and research using foetal tissue
MDR Evans, Jonathan Kelley, and Esmail D Zanjani
Public approval of foetal stem cell use depends on the intentions of the donor
MDR Evans, Jonathan Kelley, and Esmail D Zanjani
Should cloning be allowed? Public attitudes in Australia, 2002
Research Note: Aims for scientists
Ideology and fear of genetic engineering: Public opinion in Australia 1993-2002
Moral feelings about tax cheating and welfare fraud in 29 nations
Research note: Volunteer work benefits the giver as well as the receiver
Charity work: International differences and Australian trends
Research note: Money buys happiness, but not much
Global inequality: Moral obligation of wealthy nations? Attitudes in 26 countries in 1999-2000
Joanna Sikora
National goals: Survey data from 24 nations

Appendix: Data, methods and measurement

References/ Cumulative index/ Cumulative index of names

Of interest...