Taking the census seriously

Census time is almost upon us. Tuesday, 8 March is census day.

Every 5 years we get counted. The information is used for various official purposes and is available to researchers. It is obviously important that the information is accurate as it will be used by government and local body planners as well as researchers.

I guess very few of us have problems answering the census questions honestly. But the religion question does seem to embarrass some. Perhaps that’s why people have an “object to answering “option.

In particular people with no religion often feel compelled to claim one falsely. It’s considered by some to be anti-social to answer “no religion”. I guess that’s why my family has recorded various religions over the years – C of E, Presbyterian, Salvation Army. But my parents never belonged to a church as far as I could see.

Tick the “no religion” box if applicable

Here’s an idea – what about being honest. If you have no religion, or have stopped belonging to the one you inherited from your family, tick the “no religion” box.

Why does this matter? Well a more accurate census of religious affiliation will encourage policy makers and planners to produce social policies more in line with the population. Maybe if the true figures for religion were available our government might be more willing to remove religious ceremony from parliament and state functions. Or not be so lenient with dishing out public money purely on the basis of religious claims.

This year is also census year in the UK and Australia. (see The Census Campaign – If you’re not religious for God’s sake say so and Mark No religion) and  campaigns are underway in both countries to encourage people to answer the religion question more honestly.

Nothing is underway here. perhaps we are just to laid back. But it is worth being honest.

*Credit to Peter Jackson for “Come to your Census” graphic.

See also:
Is New Zealand a Christian nation?
Religious belief and age
“Interfaith” blindness

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11 responses to “Taking the census seriously

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Taking the census seriously | Open Parachute -- Topsy.com

  2. Looks like the libertarians have been strategically raising awareness of the jedi movement 😀 http://yfrog.com/f/h4v70yyj/


  3. And why shouldn’t they, ropata? I am all for honesty. Members of the Jedi church should make sure they are not cowed into answer C of E or something equally dishonest.


  4. Pingback: Can a new religion be established with democracy? « Earthpages.org

  5. Jedi are awesome. Unfortunately I am a deeply religious pastafarian and so it would be a lie for me to check the ‘Jedi’ option in the census.


  6. Robert Hagedorn

    Intelligent Bible thinking is not oxymoronic. Do a search: The First Scandal.


  7. I’ve never ticked any other box than “no religion” and had not considered that people would claim to be religious if they are not. There is no stigma to be not religious and the census is anonymous in any case.

    The census question that really annoys me is the ethnicity one where because of pressure from Winston’s mob, you were able to tick “New Zealander.” This has really skewed the ethncity statistics, though I always presume that 95pc of those who tick it are white persons of European descent.

    I’m just proud to be a Pakeha with no religion.

    It’s all a bit academic now, though, as the census was cancelled today.


  8. Personally, I’d have had the ethnicity question split into two: the person’s genetic ethnicity (assuming they know it) and who the person considers themselves to be. In the latter case ‘New Zealander’ would be a valid answer and it would remove the need to speculate about who answers what. (It may well be that a decent proportion of people who are ethnically Maori would tick ‘New Zealander’ – it would be interesting to know.)


  9. “New Zealander” is one’s nationality, not ethnicity. That is why it is absurd to have “New Zealander” as an option for ethnicity. It was included to pander to the red-neck brigade led by Winston. They objected to being Pakeha and even “of European descent.”


  10. That was part of the point of my second part of the two parts: to offer a ‘cultural identity’ question separate from the ethnicity one, which ultimate is about root stock. (Looking back, genetics isn’t quite right. Looks like we need three questions to riddle this out! Hehe. Just to be clear: – root stock / genetics / cultural identity.)


  11. We all should be vocal now. Religion is striking back in our personal,social, and political lives……

    Show others proudly, that you are not a stupid followers of primitive bullshit like them


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