A century ago nearly everyone in Australia was Christian, today only 64% are. We know this thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which yesterday released the Year Book 2008, based on 2006 census figures.
Today the Sydney Morning Herald had an article on this which highlighted the increase in the percentage of people who stated they had no religion or declined to respond.
The following table shows the religious affiliation as a percentage of the population (rounded out).
Other C – Other Christian religions
Other R – Other religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam)
Note: 1971 was the year the instruction ‘if no religion, write none’ was introduced.
In the 2006 census approximately 10% did not provide an answer, which I have to assume makes up 10 of the 12% in the None Stated category?
This is a copy of the question as it appeared in the 2006 census:
I have a few problems with this question, in that some non-religious people may mark other and enter humanism (as per example), or some other non-religious title. This may then get marked as the person being religious. I don’t like how the question assumes you are religious, and I also don’t like how several religions are highlighted, even though they may be predominant ones.
Would this question be better if it was worded:
19 Are you religious?
19a If Yes please enter religion in the boxes provided.
I prefer this method as it makes the person think, it’s so much easier just to tick a box. If people actually have to think what religion they are supposed to be, some of them might realise they aren’t actually religious,
Might this encourage more people to answer No to the question? Would people who were born into a specific religion but who are not actually religious be more prone to answering No?
What do you think?
The next census is in 2011 and we have until 31 March 2008 to submit suggestions or recommendations.
Should we atheists/agnostics/freethinkers/humanists/secularists band together and submit a revised religious question to the ABS for the next census? I strongly believe that the more people realise how many non-religious people are out there the more we will be taken seriously and religious views will have less impact on government decisions.
I know I don’t get a huge readership so please spread this blog around. I’ll be hitting up Australian atheist sites, forums and blogs over the next few weeks to see if we can get some action with this, so please assist.
I’d be happy to do the work and submit the idea to the ABS if sufficient feedback warranted it. Alternatively some of the atheist, humanist and secular societies might want to take this submission process on?