Resurgence and Change in Religion: Belonging

This course has no current classes. Please the waiting list.

Recent research shows that many people believe in ‘a divine Being, Thing or Principle’ (to quote from the 1983 High Court definition of a religion), but do not belong to any religious community or practice these beliefs. Conversely, many of those who belong to one or more of the world’s most significant religious communities – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam – do not believe some of the basic tenets of their faith. This course examines the changing relations between believing and belonging in the modern world.


  • What belonging involves – identity, worship, rituals and practices
  • Religious exclusivity, inclusivity and pluralism
  • The status and interpretation of sacred texts
  • The variant goals of the religious life, and how they might be reached
  • Religious structures and leadership, at the local level and beyond
  • Religion and politics – some international case studies

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Discuss data on religious adherence. What does it mean to “have no religion”?
  2. Identify the distinction between alternative ways of reaching the goals of personal belief: faith, devotion, action and meditation.
  3. Evaluate the arguments for and against the separation of religion from politics.
  4. Examine the validity and implications of the statement that “Australia is no longer a Christian country”.