Rev Professor Philip Hughes

Rev Professor Philip Hughes

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

Professor Philip Hughes was a senior research officer with the Christian Research Association (CRA) from its foundation in 1985 until 2016 and has been appointed as an approved researcher by the CRA. He joined Harvest Bible College in 2015 before becoming a research professor at Alphacrucis, and chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee. Now retired, he is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and continues to work in the field of the sociology of religion in Australia.

Professor Hughes has postgraduate degrees in philosophy, theology and education, and has done extensive empirical research in the areas of religion, values, and personal and communal wellbeing. He is particularly interested in the relationship between Christianity and culture. For many years he was a research fellow at the Centre for Social Justice Research, Edith Cowan University. He is also an honorary research fellow with the University of Divinity.

Philip is a member of the Holistic Human Health and Theology and Society research clusters.


D.Theol. (South-East Asia Graduate School of Theology)
Dissertation Title Christianity and Culture: A Case in Northern Thailand 1983

M.Ed. (University of Melbourne)
Dissertation Title ;New Being' and Religious and Moral Education 1977

M.A. (University of Melbourne)
Dissertation Title Decisions of Life-Style 1974

B.D.(Hons) (Melbourne College of Divinity) 1976

B.A.(Hons) (University of Melbourne) 1972

Current Research

Changes in the nature of religion and spirituality in the Australian context

Volunteering and religion


Religion and society


  • 2023
    • Hughes, P. (2023). Australia’s Religious and Non-Religious Profiles: Analysis of the 2021 Census Data. Christian Research Association. | External link
  • 2022
    • Hughes, P.J.(2022). The Impact of Religion in Australian Society through Individual Lives. Christian Research Association.
  • 2019
    • Bilimoria, P., Bapat, J., Hughes, P. (2019). The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia (2nd edition). Manticore Publishing.
  • 2017
    • Hughes, P.J.(2017). Educating for Purposeful Living in a Post-Traditional Age. Christian Research Association.
  • 2016
    • Hughes, Philip J. (2016). Charting the Faith of Australians: Thirty Years in the Christian Research Association. Christian Research Association.
    • Hughes, P. J., Reid, S., Fraser, M., (2016). A Vision for Effective Youth Ministry: Insights from Australian Research. .
  • 2015
    • Hughes, P. (2015). Research Methods for Ministry and Mission (2nd edition). Christian Research Association.
  • 2014
    • Hughes, P.J., Fraser, L. (2014). Life, Ethics and Faith in Australian Society: Facts and Figures. Christian Research Association.
  • 2013
    • Hughes, P.J., Cronshaw, D. (2013). Baptists in Australia: A Church with a Heritage and a Future. Christian Research Association.
  • 2012
    • Hughes, P.J., Fraser, M., Reid, S. (2012). Australia's Religious Communities: Facts and Figures. Christian Research Association.
  • 2010
    • Hughes, PJ, Kaldor, P., Black, A. (2010). Spirit Matters: How Making Sense of Life Affects Wellbeing. Mosaic Press.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2010). Shaping Australia's Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context. Mosaic Press.
  • 2008
    • Hughes, P.J.(2008). The Spirituality of Teachers in Catholic Schools: Project Report. John Garratt Publishing.
  • 2007
    • Hughes, P.J., Black, A., Kaldor, P., Bellamy, J., Castle, K. (2007). Building Stronger Communities. University of New South Wales Press.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2007). Putting Life Together: Findings from Australian Youth Spirituality Research. .
  • 2003
    • Hughes, P.J., Howe, B. (2003). Spirit of Australia II: Religion and Citizenship in National Life. AFT Press.
    • Hughes, P.J., Black, A., Kaldor, P., Bellamy, J., Castle, K. (2003). Profiling Australians: Social and Religious Characteristics of the Population. NCLS Research.
  • 2002
    • Hughes, P.J., Black, A., Kaldor, P., Bellamy, J., Castle, K. (2002). Why People Don’t Go to Church. Openbook.
  • 2001
    • Hughes, P.J., Bond, S (2001). Chaplaincy in Uniting Church Schools. Uniting Education.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2001). Working in the Anglican Church: Experiences of Female and Male Clergy. Standing Committee of General Synod, The Anglican Church of Australia: Sydney.
  • 2000
    • Hughes, P.J., Emmett, J. (2000). Making Disciples: A Survey of Christian Education in UCA Congregations. Uniting Church Press.
  • 1996
    • Hughes, P.J., Pryor, R., Thompson, C., Bouma, G.D.(1996). Believe It or Not: Australian Spirituality and the Churches in the 90s. Christian Research Association.
    • Hughes, P.J., Adam, E. (1996). The Buddhists in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service.
    • Hughes, P.J.(1996). The Baptists in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
    • Hughes, P.J., Godley, S. (1996). The Eastern Orthodox in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
    • Hughes, P.J., Schild, M. (1996). The Lutherans in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
    • Hughes, P.J., Bentley, P. (1996). The Uniting Church in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
    • Hughes, P.J., Burke, D. (1996). The Presbyterians in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
    • Hughes, P.J.(1996). The Pentecostals in Australia. Australian Govt. Pub. Service: Canberra, ACT.
  • 1992
    • Hughes, P.J., Bentley, P., Blombery, T. (1992). Faith without the Church? Nominalism in Australian Christianity. Christian Research Association.
  • 1990
    • Hughes, P.J., Blombery, T. (1990). Patterns of Faith in Australian Churches. Christian Research Association.
  • 1989
    • Hughes, P.J.(1989). The Australian Clergy. Christian Research Association.
    • Hughes, P.J.(1989). Proclamation and Response: A Study of the Christian Faith in Northern Thailand. Payap University.

Book Chapters

  • 2023
    • Hughes, P (2023). Australians’ Attitudes to Various Religions and Interfaith Activities In Adis Duderija, Denise A. Austin, Johannes M. Luetz, Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide: Approaches, Experiences, and Practices (pp. 163-180). Springer Singapore.
  • 2016
    • Hughes, P.J.(2016). Contemporary Spirituality and Mission in Australia In Jackson, D. and Cronshaw, D. (editors), Cultural Diversity, Worship and Australian Baptist Church Life: New Wineskins Volume 2 (pp. ). Morling Press.
  • 2015
    • Hughes, P.J.(2015). Teenage Participation in Local Church Life: Multiple Doors In edited by A. Village and R. W. Hood Jr., Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion (pp. 40-56). Brill.
  • 2013
    • Hughes, P.J.(2013). Bible engagement among Australian young people In Pauline Hoggart, Fergus Macdonald, Bill Mitchell and Knud Jorgensen, Bible in Mission (pp. 200-207). Wipf & Stock.
  • 2010
    • Hughes, P.J.(2010). The Religiosity of Youth in Australia and Thailand In Giuseppe Giordan (editor), Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion (pp. ). Brill.
  • 2009
    • Hughes, P.J.(2009). Spiritual confidence and its contribution to wellbeing: Implications for education In M. de Souza, L. J. Francis, J. O'Higgins-Norman, D. G. Scott (editors), International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing (pp. 907-920). Springer.
  • 2008
    • Hughes, P.J.(2008). Hinduism in Australasia In D. Cush, C. Robinson and M. York (ed), Encyclopaedia of Hinduism (pp. ). Routledge.
  • 2006
    • Hughes, P.J.(2006). The Future of Religious Education in the Context of Postmodernity In Souza, K. Engebretson, G. Durka, R. Jackson and A. McGrady (eds), (pp. 349-362). Springer.
  • 2005
    • Hughes, P.J., Black, A. (2005). Social Capital and the Sustainability of Rural or Remote Communities: Evidence from the Australian Community Survey In A. Dale and J. Onyx (ed.), A Dynamic Balance: Social Capital and Sustainability Community Development (pp. 159-175). University of British Columbia (UBC) Press.
  • 2000
    • Hughes, P.J., Black, A., Kaldor, P., Bellamy, J. (2000). Dropping out of church: the Australian Experience In Leslie J. Francis and Yaacov J. Katz (eds), Joining and Leaving Religion: Research Perspectives (pp. ). Gracewing.

Journal Articles

  • 2024
    • Hughes, P. (2024). Why People are Ceasing to Attend Churches and to Identify with Religious Institutions. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, No. 9 (2024) 101-149.
  • 2023
    • Hughes, P.J.(2023). Re-Building Confidence as a Prelude to Ministry, Journal of Contemporary Ministry. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, 7 pp.7-30.
  • 2022
    • Hughes, P.J.(2022). Voluntary Contributions to Society: The Impact of School Systems. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 31:2 113-137.
  • 2021
    • Hughes, PJ (2021). Do Religion and Spirituality Make a Contribution to the Public Good? The Association of Religion and Spirituality with Volunteering. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 34(1) 96-121.
    • Bohr, M. & Hughes, P. (2021). Why Gen Y are Leaving Hillsong and Other Pentecostal Churches. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, 5. | External link
  • 2019
    • Hughes, P.J.(2019). The Churches’ Role in Volunteering in Urban and Rural Contexts in Australia. Rural Theology, 17 (1) 18-29.
  • 2018
    • Hughes, P.J.(2018). Measuring the Fruit of the Spirit: Are Christians Really Different from Others?. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, No. 4 29-46.
    • Hughes, P (2018). Religion and Volunteering through Groups and Organisations. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, 4 1-10.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2018). Theology and Social Sciences in Ministry Research. Journal of Contemporary Ministry,  37-57.
  • 2017
    • Hughes, P.J.(2017). Theology and Social Sciences in Ministry Research. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, 3 37-57.
  • 2015
    • Hughes, P.J.(2015). The Multi-Dimensional Issue of Culture and Christian Ministry. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, No. 1.


  • 2021
    • Do Religious Attenders Have a Problem in Living Alongside People of Other Religions? (2021), Religion in Global/Local Perspective: Diffusion, Migration, Transformation Conference, Online, 12 Jul 2021
  • 2020
    • Data arising from the latest AuSSA about the religious profile in Australia (2020), AC Research Colloquium, Online, 30 Apr 2020
  • 2019
    • Youth and Church in the Age of Experience (2019), International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, 28 Aug 2019
  • 2018
    • To What Extent are Australian Churches Inclusive of Different Social Groups? (2018), Conference for Contemporary Ministry, Victoria, Australia, 07 Sep 2018
    • The Economic Contribution of Church Attenders to Australian Society (2018), Colloquium, Sydney, Australia, 01 Aug 2018
  • 2016
    • Synod of Victoria Church and the Changing Australian Context’ (2016), Major Strategic Review Team of the Uniting Church, Victoria, 01 Jan 2016
  • 2015
    • Church and Ministry: A Contemporary Voice Identifying New Models of Church in Contemporary Australia (2015), Harvest Bible College Research Conference, Scoresby, VIC, 27 Aug 2015
    • Measuring the Impact of Christian Faith on Society: A Contribution to Defending the Faith in Western Societies? (2015), 7th Lausanne International Researchers’ Network Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 24 May 2015
    • Social Study of Impact on Society of Individual Religiosity and Religious Involvement (2015), Colloquium on the Economic Impact of Religion on Australian Society, Canberra, Australia, 20 Feb 2015

Engagement Publications

Journal Articles

  • 2023
    • Hughes, P. J (2023). Ministers of Religion and Other Providers of Religious Services in Australia 2021. Pointers, 33 1-9.
  • 2022
    • Hughes, P. J (2022). Census Statistics Show Cultural Change Sweeping Australia. Pointers, 32 5-12.
    • Hughes, P. J.(2022). Where is Growth in ‘No Religion’ Coming From?. Pointers, 32 1-4.
    • Hughes, P. J (2022). Reflections on Leadership, Monarchy and Head of the Church. Pointers, 32 13-15.
    • Hughes, P. J (2022). The Future of Faith Communities in Australia. Pointers, 32 1-9.
    • Hughes, P. J (2022). Attitudes to Homosexuality among Adult Australians. Pointers, 32 10-13.
    • Hughes, P. J (2022). World-wide Patterns in Attendance at Religious Services.. Pointers, 32 1-6.
  • 2021
    • Hughes, PJ (2021). World-wide Patterns in Attendance at Religious Services. Pointers:, 31(2) 1-6. | External link
    • Hughes, PJ (2021). Australians' Attitudes to Other Religions. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 31(1) 1-7.. | External link
  • 2019
    • Hughes, P J (2019). Denominationalism Today. Pointers, 29(1) 1-7.
    • Hughes, P. (2019). Contemporary Political Challenges for Religion in Australia. Pointers, 29 (3) pp.1-7..
  • 2018
    • Hughes, P. J (2018). Marriage, family life and Faith. Pointers, 28, No. 1.
    • Hughes, P. J (2018). Providers of Religious Services in Australia. Pointers, 28, No. 2.
    • Hughes, P. (2018). Volunteering and Change in Religious Involvement. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 28(2).
  • 2016
    • Hughes, P. (2016). Providers of Religious Services in Australia in 2016. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 28 (2) 1-10.
    • Hughes, P. (2016). Marriage, Family Life and Faith. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 28 (1) 1-5.
  • 2015
    • Hughes, P.J.(2015). Migrant Families and Churches. Pointers, 23, No. 3 1-8.
    • Hughes, P. J (2015). The Economic Impact of Religion in Australian Society: Possibilities and Challenges in Its Measurement. Pointers, 25, No. 2 1-5.
    • Hughes, P. J (2015). Edward Bailey and Implicit Religion. Pointers, 25, No. 2 15-16.
    • Hughes, P. J (2015). The Impact of Faith on Society: Some Global Perspectives. Pointers, 25, No. 2 6-11.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2015). Why Young People are Leaving the Church. Pointers, 25, No. 1 1-7.
    • Hughes, P.J.(2015). The Future(s) of Religion. Pointers, 25, No. 2 12-14.

Book Reviews

  • 2020
    • Hughes, P. J.(2020). Australia Reimagined: A Book for Our Times. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Associiation, 30 (2) 6-10.. | External link
  • 2018
    • Hughes, P. J, (2018). Two Elephants in the Room: Evolving Christianity and Leadership by John Bodycomb. Pointers, 28, no. 4.

Popular Articles

  • 2020
    • Hughes, P. J.(2020). Australia's Changing Religious and Social Profile. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 30 (1)1-6. | External link
    • Hughes, P. J.(2020). Is the Church Liquifying? What is happening to the Church and Christian Faith in Postmodernity?. Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 30(3)1-8. | External link
  • 2019
    • Hughes, P J (2019). Spiritual but not Religious. Pointers, 29(2)1-7.

Other Publications

  • 2019
    • Hughes, P. J.(2019). The Axial Age and Religion in Australia Today. | External link
  • 2001
    • Hughes, P. J., Black, A. (2001). The Identification and Analysis of Indicators of Community Strength and Outcomes.

Professional Memberships

International Society for the Sociology of Religion (since 2005)

Lausanne Network of International Researchers (since 2005)

Society for Scientific Study of Religion (since 2019)

Completed Supervision

  • 2023
    • Sue, D, Women in Isan: How Modernisation is Changing Religious Roles (PhD thesis)
  • 2022
    • Reid, S, The effectiveness of sports chaplaincy as Christian ministry in Australia (DMin thesis)
    • Creed, F, The Church as a Place for Connection: Building Social Capital Across Social and Cultural Boundaries in Australian Communities (PhD thesis)
  • 2020
    • Polley, N, Spiritual development of servant leaders in Aotearoa-New Zealand tertiary education contexts (DMin thesis)
    • Pillay, J, Integration of Asian Pentecostal migrants into Australian Pentecostal churches (MPhil thesis)
    • Bohr, M, The self-identification of Generation Y as 'no religion' in contemporary Australian society (DMin thesis)