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Beyond faith? Recent trends in religion and spirituality among teenagers
chapterposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew SingletonAndrew Singleton
In 1959 American evangelist Billy Graham staged a series of revival crusades across Australia. One crusade drew the largest-ever crowd to Australia’s biggest sporting stadium, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Thousands of young people heeded Graham’s altar call and came forward to devote their lives to Christ. According to Judith Smart (1999, p. 167), in that 1959 tour, ‘decisions for Christ . . . numbered about 130,000 in Australia (representing about 1.24 per cent of the total popu - lation.)’. Just five years later, the Beatles toured Australia and were greeted by 300,000 screaming young fans in the streets of Adelaide (Safioleas, 2016, p. 16). The Beatles tour represented something of a watershed in Australian society. Among young people, the church was seemingly giving way to other interests. As Safioleas (2016, p. 17) observes, ‘Australia [in the 1960s] . . . was slowly turning into a remarkably different place’. Australia was not alone. The popularity of the Beatles signified the emergence of a new and at times rebellious youth culture across the West, one that challenged existing institutions, particularly the church and state (Catto, 2014, p. 3).