A new study has found that almost one third of young Australians believe they should be able to prevent the construction of mosques and temples in their community.
The results of the Deakin University study , which was based on a survey of 1200 Australians aged between 13 and 18, showed teens welcomed religious diversity, but were concerned about its impact on Australian life.
Deakin University sociologist Andrew Singleton said understanding how Australian teenagers viewed ethnic and religious diversity was essential to a harmonious society.
“We know a lot about what adults think of these changes, but what about the next generation?” Professor Singleton said.
“Are teenagers open, tolerant and inclusive?”
According to the study, 91 per cent of teenagers thought having people of different faiths made Australia a better place to live.
Despite this positive view, a significant number were concerned about how religion could affect them.
More than 40 per cent of those surveyed thought religion caused more harm than good, while half thought strong religious beliefs made people intolerant of others in society.
But 88 per cent believed all religious groups should be free to practice their religion in whatever way they wished.
Ethnic Communities Council of WA treasurer Rahim Ghauri said parents and religious and community leaders were responsible for increasing younger Australians’ understanding of different religions.
“It’s a changing world and if community leaders and families don’t make [different religions] something constructive and valuable for young people, they won’t like them,” he said.