Category Archives: census 2011

Not religious now?

The Mark NO RELIGION on the 2011 Census, take religion OUT of politics web site is now live. Check it out for lots of FAQs and reasons why you should mark “No Religion” on the 2011 Census if you are no longer religious, and why you should mark “No Religion” for your children.

The census categorises people into age brackets, the following link accesses the .xls spreadsheet for religion by age for Australia for 1996, 2001, & 2006. As you’ll note the first age bracket is 0 -14 years old. From the Atheist Foundation of Australia’s (AFA) Census No Religion web site:

Generally an adult fills in the questionnaire and may mark young and adolescent children as having a religious belief without their input. The largest percentage of people who hold no religious view are in the adolescence to young adulthood range, which may be as high as 50%.

Many children have not decided which set of religious beliefs they will accept as true, or thought through the ramifications of those beliefs. We therefore believe it is unfair and inaccurate to label these children has belonging to a religion. However, if you are certain the child in question truly believes the tenets of a religion, please select the appropriate option.

Just because your child was born into your religion doesn’t automatically make them a follower or believer of that religion. I’m no expert, but I doubt any child under the age of 5 can seriously make a considered decision, after taking into account all the facts and being provided with all the options, about what religion they are. In fact I doubt most children under the age of 14 can. So please, unless your child seriously claims they are a follower of a particular religion, mark them as “No Religion” on the 2011 Census.

H/T to RealityRules on the AFA forum for the link to the spreadsheet.


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Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, religion, religious

Census Submission – follow up

Got an interesting email today regarding my submission to the ABS for changes to the religion question in Census 2011. This is the full text of the message:

Dear Census Client

Mr Brian Pink, the Australian Statistician, recently highlighted to the government that the ABS budget situation for 2008-09 and beyond involved insufficient funds to sustain continuation of our current work program and provided us with no capacity to take on additional work.

Last week Mr Pink confirmed that we would not be able to obtain relief in the 2008-09 budget, and indicated that the ABS would need to cut work programs as a consequence. We regret to advise one of the work programs affected is the Census Program.

The impact on this program is that the questions for the 2011 Census of Population and Housing will be comparable to those asked in the 2006 Census. This action will not compromise the integrity and quality of ABS Census data.

We are not expecting changes or disruption to the ongoing output schedule of products and services from the 2006 Census.

While the number or frequency of some statistical products may reduce marginally, the ABS will still produce an extensive range of statistical information.

ABS thanks all who have made topic submissions for the 2011 Census. These submissions will be reconsidered as part of the consultation process post 2011.

For further information please telephone 1300 175 070 or email

Yours sincerely

Paul Lowe
Population Census Branch

So, it seems it was all a waste of time. Someone, somewhere, has decided to cut funding to the ABS. So the ABS has decided to cut the Census 2011 program, in particular submissions for changes to it.

The ABS web site doesn’t seem to have a report about this, but the Census 2011 links have all disappeared.

I’m at a bit of a loss what to say or do. I may consider writing to the Federal Government expressing my concern that a valuable service such as the ABS has had its funding cut, but I don’t know if it’s worth the effort?


Filed under ABS, atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, government funding, politics

Census 2011 – Religious Affiliation

As discussed the other day, on my Christianity – a declining population blog, the last census showed 18% to 30% of the Australian population were non-religious. I discussed how there were problems with the wording of the current census question which could result in a higher percentage of religious people than there actually are.

Today I submitted my suggestions to the ABS for changes to the Religious Affiliation question in the upcoming Census 2011, including some reasons why. A copy of my submission is available here, feel free to copy any of it if you also want to send a submission to the ABS (try not to use my exact wording). You have until 31 March 2008 to send submissions. I encourage you all to get involved, your answers don’t have to be as wordy as mine.  🙂


Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, religion

Christianity – a declining population.

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).

Religion 1901 1971 2006
Catholic 23 27 26
Anglicans 40 31 19
Other C 34 28 19
Total C 97% 86% 64%
None 0.5 6.5 18
None Stated 1 6.5 12
Total None 1.5% 13% 30%
Other R 1.5 1 6

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?


Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, christianity, religion