Yesterday, the British Humanist Association launched the Census Campaign:
The 2001 census introduced a new question on religion. It was a single, closed, leading question –- “What is your religion?” –- which produced a very high measure of religiosity compared to all other surveys. Millions of people were counted as religious when their “religion” was only a nominal, cultural affiliation, or just a habitual response to ticking “Christian”.
It’s a simple, yet important, campaign. The BHA is making a simple request:
If you’re not religious we recommend ticking ‘No religion’ for the Census 2011 question on religion.
Ticking ‘No religion’ is better than leaving the question unanswered because this way you count. And it’s better than answering with the religion you were brought up in if you don’t believe in it anymore and don’t think organised religion speaks for you.
It’s that easy. Why on earth would anyone not participate…?
Well, I’m sure there are a few reasons, but they’re all stretches. Just check the box. And let them know you exist.
Why is this so important? The BHA offers a few reasons:
- It is important that the Census generates accurate figures. It is used to legitimise resource allocation and policy. The more people tick the ‘No Religion’ box, the less inaccurate ‘evidence’ there is that government should listen to religious groups and leaders over and above other groups within society.
- There will be no negative repercussions on you personally if you do. The Census is not interested in you personally- it is used to find general themes in the population. Although it is not anonymous, personal data will not be traced back to you in any analysis so there should be very limited issues about privacy.
- You will be affected by negative use of the data. Social policy, services and government action affects everyone.
- This may be the last Census ever held- if we get inaccurate data we may be stuck with it forever!
- An increased percentage of non-religious people will mean an increased voice for your issues as a non-religious person in society, particularly in equality work and education.
Stop making excuses and check the box.