Monday, 4 October 2010

The UK census "religion" question.

This was the voluntary question posed in the 2001 census. It is generally considered to be somewhat of a leading question, even though the first tick box allows selection of "No religion", this is not strictly a logical answer since "No religion" is not a religion.  This is  immediately followed by the "Christian" option and it is thought likely that in 2001 many people naively identified themselves as "christian" because they had been told that is what they were when young and had had the idea reinforced by schooling and being told at intervals throughout their lives that they lived in a 'christian' nation. This is not at all the same thing as believing in an invisible magic friend and regularly attending and financially supporting a church.  This is clearly indicated by the vanishingly small figures for church attendance and the many churches being closed, demolished or put to other uses.

This anomaly produced the result that over 42M people declared themselves as belonging to the christian faith and the government uses these results  to justify diverting taxpayers money to faith schools and other religious groups: and the BBC to justify using licence fees to fund a disproportionate amount of religious programming. 

In 2011 British citizens will have the first opportunity since 2001 to make clear the extent of their religiosity yet, notwithstanding strong representations by the British Humanist Society and the National Secular Society it is believed the question will remain unaltered.

We are all aware that christianity has had significant influences on our history and culture but we are where we are and, if we believe that, in the modern world, religion can be a dangerously divisive influence, the answer to the religion question should be clear.

Read an NSS article on this subject.

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