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We take the folio w’ng interesting analysis of the religious beliefs of the New Zealand people from the “New Zealand Wesleyan” for the month. The figures have been supplied by the census returns of the colony for 1878: — “ It will be matter of surprise to many that, in a European population of less than half a million, nearly 100 different sects and denominations have been enrolled. In some of these the number is exceedingly small, but the record is interesting as showing the vagaries of religious belief, and the tenacity with which men cling to their opinions. One solitary brother calls himself a ‘Dawsonite,’ and by his side there stand a, ‘ Congregational Methodist,’ an ‘ Andorsonian,’ a ‘ Glassite,’ and a ‘Trinitarian,’ each being the only representative of the body. The ‘ Church of the Future ’ has four men and three women upon its roll, while the ‘ Church of God,’ so called, has seventeen. “Considering the noise Spiritualists make in the colony, and the space they occupy in the newspapers, one is surprised to find that only 52 have so enrolled themselves. Probably some have not the courage of their opinions, and it may be that others who believe in spiritism still remain members of other churches. So far as these returns show, the number of Mormons fifty-seven—is in excess of the Spiritists. “A somewhat ominous sign of the times, and an evidence of the general unsottledness in matters of creed, is that so large a proportion as 10,504 —or one in 40 of the whole population— ‘ object to state ’ their belief. As against this 30 have the courage to avow themselves Atheists, 7 dub themselves Materialists, and 400 are Freethinkers. Nineteen persons - ten men and nine women —are evidently seeking more light, for they subscribe themselves ‘ Free to choose. ’ “ There are in the colony 1424 Jews, 39 Mahometansj while a field for Missionary effort is revealed by the entry ‘4379 Pagans.’ The ‘Catholic and Apostolic Church,’ founded by the late Edward Irving, has 55 adherents, and there are also 5 Huguenots or French Protestants. “ Taken in numerical order, the Church of England, and Protestants not otherwise defined, comes first, with 170,337, or 42.55 per cent, of the whole population. Next follow the Presbyterians with 95,103, or 22.59 per cent.; Roman Catholics, 58,881, or 14.21 percent.; and Methodists, 37,879, or 9.14 per cent. No other denomination number 10,000, those who come nearest to that being Baptists, 9159; Congregational Independents, 5555; and Lutherans, 5G43. In view of the fact that the Pagans, composed chiefly of Chinese, show a decrease of 8.08 per cent, during tlie foui years, there scarcely seems any need for agitation about their coming. “ The proportional increase of the adherents of the several churches from 1874 to 1878 show’s the Methodists to stand first with 50.20 per cent. The others follow in this I’atio: Roman Catholics, 45.85; Lutherans, 44 17; Baptists, 44.12; Church of England, 38.6 G; Presbyterians, 31.22; and Independents, 2.10. It will be somewhat of a surprise to many that in the City of Dunedin, usually reputed as “ time blue throughout, there arc almost as many Episcopalians as Presbyterians, the numbers being—Presbyterians, 7G58, and I Episcopalians, 6736.”

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 4, 4 October 1879

Word Count

THE RELIGIONS OF THE COLONY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 4, 4 October 1879