56 per cent of Kiwis believe in sin
The NZ Herald, 18 August 2001, had a headline: "Sin
stakes new claim on NZ minds -– Sin is back. Not in our behaviour, but in our
A survey of New Zealanders' values shows that belief in sin
has almost doubled since 1985, from 30 per cent to 56 per cent, and that
spirituality is on the rise.
Alan Webster, founding director of the New Zealand Values
Study and retired associate professor of human development and education at
Massey University, surveyed 1200 people in the most comprehensive study of
values conducted here.
He found that the other 'fear-inspiring beliefs' -– in
the devil (30 per cent) and hell (26 per cent) -– remained much lower.
Conversely, 48 per cent believed in heaven.
Dr Webster, aged 72, attributed the heightened belief in sin
to several factors -– the uncertainty and rapid change of modern life, a
destigmatisation of the concept of sin, and the country's growing number of
Pacific Islanders and Maori, who tend towards traditional religious beliefs.
'It seems to be a reflection of the greater seriousness
that has struck modern people about the many very frightening and bad things
going on in the world, and they don't mind using the word sin to explain them.'
While 51 per cent of those aged 60 and over believed in sin,
it rose to 64 per cent for those aged 31-40, suggesting a generational reaction
against the youth culture of the 1960s.
But New Zealand still ranked low in sin belief, behind
Australia (71 per cent), South Africa (79 per cent) and the United Stated (87
Institutional religion and traditional religious beliefs
seemed to be at a lower ebb than in Britain, Australia and the US. But Dr
Webster said it would be wrong to say New Zealand was growing less religious.
The survey showed that while only 35 per cent confessed faith
in a personal God, a further 40 per cent believed in a 'life force or spirit'.
New Zealanders were not as strongly determined as others to
have high economic growth, he said. 'That's a Kiwi thing. We just want a
good life.'." (emphasis added).