Census Results Show That Nearly Half of New Zealand Has No Religious Affiliation

There are now more Pastafarians in New Zealand than Lutherans. :sunglasses:


Pastafarianism is officially larger than Lutheranism (3,585) in the nation.

I’m not clear on why that is noteworthy. Countries with lots of Lutherans typically (1) were settled by large numbers of immigrants from Germany and/or the Nordic nations, or (2) had a strong history of Lutheran missionary presence. New Zealand had neither of those factors in its history, so common sense would expect a very small number of Lutheran New Zealanders. So this statistic sounds more like a very lame case of cherry-picking data to conform to an agenda.

Of course, Pastafarianism is more of a fun and trendy meme inspired at least in part by a funny photo of a guy wearing a spaghetti strainer on his head. I can certainly see the entertainment appeal, however, of both the Pastafarian bandwagon and the Friendly Atheist webpage.

I don’t think New Zealand had its first Christian missionary until the early 1800’s. So these statistics don’t surprise me. Not every European-settled country was founded by a lot of devout Christians.

By the way, I read a while back that the fastest growing religion in New Zealand is Hinduism.


This totally made my day! And yes it’s noteworthy.

Actually, no, that’s not an accurate description of the origins of the faith. It is distressing to see that so many of today’s internet commentators, self-identifying as “Professor & Minister,” lack this knowledge of our culture and its recent changes. :wink::spaghetti:


Sorry, @sfmatheson . That was a joke, an inside joke at that. Yes, I probably should have used an emoticon but I didn’t. @Patrick and I share a lot of back-and-forth that is tongue-and-cheek. My reference to the spaghetti strainer was inspired by a driver’s license Patrick posted on these forums of exactly that description, not so long ago if I recall. I was playing off of that meme, which I understood to be one of his favorites.

So, no, I don’t really think that a driver’s license joke [but real-life protest which passed court muster] was the beginning of Pastafarianism. Even a has-been “professor & minister” like me knows that the Flying Spaghetti Monster dates back to a protest of a State of Kansas Board of Education policy about teaching Intelligent design in the public schools. (I was objecting to the ID movement’s efforts in Kansas then just as much as I do now.) Surely you don’t deny that funny Pastafarian memes and the driver’s license photo have played a significant role in getting lots of people to claim that “religious” affiliation. Indeed, I find that many Pastafarians have no knowledge of the Kansas Board of Education background.

Even so, I’m not offended by the attempt at personal insult. I retired from my days as a science professor and computational linguistics scholar about twenty years and I freely admit that I don’t keep up on all the Internet trends. I never taught a course in Pastafarianism—and am often clueless on all sorts of topics.

Fun memes like the various popular spaghetti strainer photos with atheist captions remind me a bit of pre-Internet atheism and agnosticism campaigns of various sorts which were trendy on some university campuses even back in my day. When I was in grad school, I remember a guy who distributed “ordination certificates” and “evangelistic tracts” for the Society of Evangelical Agnostics. He had various joke materials like “The S.E.A. Doctrinal Statement of Non-Faith” and posters about “agnostic pietism” which almost all involved puns on the word “sea.” He claimed to be a “cardinal” who was hoping to be elected “pope” at the next SEA conclave in Rome, New York, where SEA allegedly had its international headquarters and the Peter Rabbit Basilica. On Valentine’s Day he would pass out SEA business cards which advertised his availability as an ordained agnostic minister who could perform weddings. He wasn’t the founder of “evangelical agnosticism” but several times over the years I’ve noticed alumni news updates where someone mentions being an ordained agnostic minister. I always wonder if they knew that guy. He wasn’t the founder of agnosticism but he certainly made it a topic of conversation in the graduate residence hall.


It was a joke. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a parody. To imagine that in a country like New Zealand that Pastafarians out rank a serious Christian denomination like the Lutherans just shows how insignificant religion has become in the Western World.


With “The Friendly Atheist” it is often hard to tell. He posts a lot of claims, some with citations and some little more than popular myths.

Yes, I think nearly everybody on a forum like this one knows the history of the parody (and how Pastafarian is a play on Rastafarian.)

That’s where you lose me. There are lots of “serious Christian denominations” which have little to no presence in a remote island like New Zealand. How does that make them part of an “insignificant religion”?


Have the Lutherans just given up on New Zealand? Here is the raw data. Perhaps some Lutherans here can comment.

That’s ridiculous. I suggest you stick to the topic and avoid lame inaccurate ad hominem. Hemant is scrupulously careful with citations, and my assumption is that crude ad hominem like yours is indicative of discomfort with the fact that Christian faith is in a frenzy to discredit itself, a plain fact that Hemant is wiling and able to document.

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Seeing how they never had a major presence in New Zealand, I’m not sure what you mean by “giving up”. I’m no expert on the history of European missions to New Zealand but I think the first missionary expedition from Germany was more focused on the Maori aboriginal people rather than German settlers. To my knowledge it was not nearly as successful as other European mission organizations from other types of Christian sects.

If you are implying that there has been a major collapse in Lutheranism in New Zealand, that is news to me. Plenty of other Christian sects are still heavily represented there. I could just as easily point out that Pastafarians outnumber Quakers in my region of the country. So what? What would that prove?

Oh for pity’s sake, the OP by Hemant documents precipitous declines in Christian identification in NZ. That’s good news for NZ and for humanity. I can’t tell whether the Lutherans are declining too, but only a fool would bet against it. Christianity is an embarrassment to humanity in all its forms.

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I was just picking on the Lutherans. More for fun than anything else. The bottom line here is that census after census and survey after survey, religion and in particular Christianity is waning in the Western World. I look at Austrialia, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada and UK as leading indicators of what will soon be true in the United States - secularism is rising and all religions especially Christianity is waning. Add in the church scandals and the backlash to Christian Nationalism is just making the change toward secularism all the faster especially among those under 40 years old.


In the US, Christianity in the form of Christian Nationalism is resulting in Christianity giving up the high moral ground. People of no religious faith are now seen as more tolerant, more non-discriminatory, more charitable, than most Christians and Christian organizations. There is a cancer today in Christianity. Why is it necessary? What value does it provide in living? Christianity today is all about divisiveness, all about intolerance and bigotry, as well as organized scandals against children (Catholic Church). I think that it is time to have a discussion at PS about “Why bother with Christianity in today’s secular world?” Live a good comfortable life full of purpose and meaning without it.


Yes, I realize that. I just wasn’t clear why Mehta thought a comparison with Lutherans was persuasive of anything. He had plenty of other statistics to support his main thesis statement.

Reading Mehta can be a lot like reading Ken Ham. Both can be friendly. Both can also repeat a lot of strange claims to entertain their respective audiences.

(By the way, I certainly know of Missouri Synod Lutherans congregations in the USA which are experiencing declines for their association with traditional Young Earth Creationist positions.)

This is a disgraceful comparison. I have previously found your posts to be interesting and reasonable, but this is a major low point.

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Mehta is a very good journalist. He is the total opposite of Ken Ham. Mehta doesn’t lie. He is accurate in his reporting. He quotes accurately and tell the story from his atheist viewpoint. I always enjoy reading Mehta, in the same way that I enjoy read Ethan Segal on Physics. Regarding Ken Ham, when is the Christian community going to be more vocal against him? When is PS going to go after AiG with the same vigor, as it did with DI and ID?


The comparison certainly does neither of them any favors. However, I do find their similarities fascinating.

By the way, I think you and I met years ago when you were still an evangelical and professor of biology at Calvin College. But for the life of me I can’t imagine where it would have been. I doubt that you attended any ETS or AAR/SBL conferences but perhaps I’m wrong about that. Do you still have any of your articles appearing on the Biologos website?

They’re not remotely similar. Integrity is one obvious difference.

You can find an old series on fins to limbs here at BL. I went to two ASA meetings, one at TWU and one at Calvin, so maybe we met there.

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That’s an interesting question I have often pondered. One answer is that vocal opposition sometimes helps to encourage and give more power to such people.That’s one of several reasons why I find the Peaceful Science strategy so intriguing. When Christians oppose what Ham is doing, he tells his followers that that “persecution” is proof that he is indeed doing God’s good work. A lot of people I’ve known buy into that “logic.” It may be like politics and many other areas of human disagreement: carrots and listening may work better than sticks and denunciation.

I think most Christians don’t come out against Ken Ham and AiG because they know deep down that if they go down that path that they jeopardize their own faith. Sure some can hang on like those Christians here at PS and Biologos, but it is really hard to challenge Ken Ham/AiG and not slide into “Deism plus Jesus” view of the natural world of modern physics, chemistry and biology where everyday brings new scientific insights.