Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Just say No!

A study published today using their local census data shows that religion in nine countries is set for extinction.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. In all the countries, the indications were a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

"In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%," according to one of the researchers Dr Richard Wiener.

Read about the study

Here in the UK, nearly two-thirds of people do not regard themselves as "religious", according to a new survey.

The British Humanist Association (BHA), which commissioned the poll, said people often identified themselves as religious for cultural reasons.

Read about the findings

For only the second time, the UK census this year will include an optional question about religious belief.

Yet as BHA chief Executive Andrew Copson says, "Instead of asking, 'Do you have a religion and if so, what is it?', the question asks 'What is your religion?', a closed question that funnels people into giving a religious response, even if they don't go to a church or a mosque, even if they don't believe in God."

Mr Copson also says that the placing of the religious question close to other questions about ethnicity encourages white British householders - even those who never go to church - to tick "Christian" because they believe it is part of their overall cultural identity. "If the number of religious people is artificially inflated in the census, then public policy in matters of religion and belief will unduly favour religious lobbies and discriminate against people who do not live their lives under religion."

Read more

In effect, if people identify themselves as belonging to a particular religion merely by accident of birth or cultural identity, this could directly impinge upon everyone's lives despite the increasing trend in this country towards a secular society.

Already the legacy of years of pro-religious legislation has allowed for the rise of "faith schools", and currently permits religious organisations to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination legislation with regard to the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Anglican Bishops still sit in the House of Lords and pass judgement upon the laws of the land that affect everyone, regardless whether they share their belief. The church is still allowed to form part of our (unwritten) constitution.

These abhorrent situations can and will never change unless they are seen for what they are - an increasingly marginalised and irrelevant minority.

The short answer is simple. If you’re not religious, then answer “No Religion” on the census. I support the Census Campaign wholeheartedly!

Read more about the Census Campaign


  1. I did say no religion - will I get into trouble for filling in the form early?

  2. Judging by the general apathy that most people express towards such things, I imagine the census people will be clapping their hands to receive the forms early! Jx


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