Christianity in Australia

Origins and foundations Christianity came to Australia with the settlement of Sydney Cove in 1788, before the French Revolution and the formation of the major British evangelical missionary societies. In Australia, in contrast to the rest of the Pacific, it came as a chaplaincy to soldiers and convicts rather than as a mission to the indigenous people. From its origins in Australia, then, Christianity has been seen as part of the apparatus of law and order. The transformation of a convict society into a nation of the healthy and law-abiding may be understood as one of Christianity's major achievements in the nineteenth century. Australians may have had difficulty in resisting materialism and secularism, but there was no doubt in anybody's mind that, in the nineteenth century, Australia was a Christian country. The great majority of the settler population identified with a Christian denomination, either really or nominally. Christianity was a major factor in shaping the Australian colonies.

A new denominational mix

Although the Church of England had the largest percentage adherence of any denomination in Australia until 1986 when it was overtaken by the Catholics, membership of other denominations was greater as a percentage of the population than in England, in itself creating a different religious culture. Nonconformists, especially Congregationalists and Calvinistic Methodists, were revered early settlers in New South Wales to which they came en route to, or after displacement from, the Pacific islands to which they were sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS).

Wesleyan Methodists, by contrast, did not start well. They held their first class meetings in Sydney and nearby Parramatta in 1812, but membership was

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