March 2, 2011

Humanists launch census poster campaign

by Jan Harris

The British Humanist Association is on a campaign to stop people who aren’t religious from saying they are on this year’s census, which takes place on 27 March.

The association is planning to place posters on buses and at railway stations with the slogan “If you’re not religious for God’s sake say so”.

According to the last census, which took place in 2001, nearly three quarters of people in England and Wales said they were Christians.

The Humanist Association believes that this does not reflect the true position in this country, a view that is borne out by the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, also carried out in 2001, which found that 51.2% of the population were Christian.

The problem is believed to lie with the way the census question on religion is worded.

“What is your religion,” it asks, rather than “Do you have a religion?”

This is believed to make people more likely to tick one of the faiths listed rather than the ‘No religion’ box.

The reason the Humanist Association is taking this seriously is because data from the census is used as a basis for policies in the future, such as the funding of faith schools and the distribution of public funds to religious organisations.

Despite working with the Office for National Statistics for more than two years, the British Humanist Association has failed to persuade it to change the wording of the question.

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