The beginning of Christianity in Australia

Adapted from Roger C Thompson "Religion in Australia: A history" (Oxford Univeristy Press: 1994) pp 1- 11.

- Laws in England enforcing compulsory attendance at Anglican Church services repealed. Many, especially working class people, stop attending church.

- 1788 - Lieutenant-Govenor Arthur Phillip ordered to 'enforce a due observance of religion and good order among the inhabitants of the new settlement, and that you do take such steps for the celebration of publick worship as circumstances will permit'

- First chaplain to Australia, Rev Richard Johnson, influenced by Anglican Evangelicals. Also appointed as magistrate. His main goal was converting the white and native inghabitants to Christianity. He had little success. Johnson and other following clergy had less success with Aboriginals than with whites. None had any respect for Aboriginal culture or religion.

- Rev Samuel Marsden appointed to assist Johnson and then becomes successor. Hands out savage flogging sentences. Marsden opposed the appontment of any Roman Catholic clergy to the colony. Appointment of Anglican clergymen as magistrates continued until 1827.

- Governor Macquarie orders compulsory church attendance for convicts in government service and enforces laws prohibiting publicans to trade during hours of worship. He prohibited Marsden's move to introduce a new version of the psalms and ordered government notices be read in worship services.

- 1821 - Govenor Thomas Brisbane (and his successor Ralph Darling) gave the Anglican church land grants, clergy salaries and support for their schools. Government supported Anglican schools provided the majority of education.

- 1825 - London Missionary Society's Lancelot Threkold began a mission to Aboriginals of the Awabakal people of Lake Macquarie and documents "a war of expiration" against Aboriginal people to which most of his fellow clergy had closed their eyes. Marsden opposed the mission and influenced the London Missionary Society to withdraw its support.

- 1830 - First Anglican Bishop in Australia, Willian Broughton, told Govenor Darling that there were church seats for less than half of Sydney's Protestant population, and many of those were empty at Sunday worship services. In particular, working class people showed 'little disposition to attend'. Frequent comments were made by clergy that Sundays were treated by colonists as a day for entertainment or idleness rather than church attendance.

- 1836 - NSW Church Act providing for financial assistance for ministerial salaries and building subsidies of the four main denominations though Anglicans receive the greatest share.

- 1840 - Broughton seeks the banning of sporting events and the sale of meat on Sundays (not passed as law).

- Drunkeness was one of the clergy's greatest complaints.