Category Archives: census

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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Census 2011 UK

As stated in my previous post Census 2011, the UK also have a census this year and also have a census campaign. On the AFA Forum member Davo posted this great youtube video from the UK campaign. Apart from some of the items mentioned in the “used to justify the following policies” section, this video is also very relevant to the Australian Census and the AFA’s Census 2011 campaign.

Watch it and leave comments, particularly like to know what an equivalent one should mention in the ‘justify the following policies’ section.

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Census 2011

As readers of my blog may remember, I have discussed the Australian Census several times before (use the search bar to review old posts) and how the religion question is skewed toward people noting they have a religion when in fact many of them are actually not religious. Like many other countries which are having a census this year (UK, Ireland, NZ) campaigns are in motion to get these people to mark ‘No Religion’ on the census form if they are not religious. The Atheist Foundation of Australia are spearheading the campaign in Australia and currently plan to have billboards across the nation in major cities stating “Census 2011: Not religious now? Mark ‘No religion’ and take religion out of politics.”

The billboards will look like this (click pic for full size image):

NOTE: I have changed my Header picture to the above picture and will have it there until after the census, as long as the AFA don’t mind?

They also have a nice round logo (click pic for full size image):

The AFA are asking for donations to help fund the billboards, if you are interested check the AFA’s site for details. Plus they have a range of products for sale on the cafepress site to help raise much needed funds. Why not do your bit? If you can’t afford to spend any money at least spread the word.

There is an active discussion of the Census 2011 topic on the AFA’s forum if you want to keep abreast with news and updates. I posted the following on the site today:

Great to see the Census campaign has started up, but I have an important question.

Has the AFA contacted like minded organisations (eg: Political parties who would be interested such as the Secular Party of Australia or the Sex Party ; or like minded organisations like The Rationalist Society of Australia or the Australian Skeptics; or campaigning organisations like Getup) ?

Whilst I’m sure a Billboard will have some impact to the people who see it and, if we are lucky, a further impact from mainstream media if they pick it up as a story; having more organisations involved would surely help our cause, and assist in reaching the message to a wider audience?

I also agree that a facebook and twitter account should be available for those who like to spread a message via online means.

I have sent a tweet this morning linking to the AFA site.

Apologies if the AFA committee are already in the process of contacting like minded organisations.

Well it looks like the AFA committee are in the process as David replied that they have “an extensive list of media outlets and other organisations. They have been contacted.”


So lets spread the message and see if we can’t get a more accurate measure of the non-religious in Australia at this years census. Remember your tax dollars go toward funding various religions and their activities and the government hands out these tax dollars. Perhaps the government wouldn’t be so inclined to spend so much tax money on religions if they found out there isn’t as many religious people as they thought?

Remember mark ‘No Religion’ on your census form this year, and mark ‘No Religion’ for all your children, as Dawkins says children shouldn’t be labelled little christians or little muslims just because that’s what religion their parents follow. Children are too young to have formed a viable opinion as to what religion, if any, they are.

In 2011 you will be able to fill in your Census form online via the eCensus. You can also register to deliever and collect census forms if you are so inclined. Check the ABS Census page for information

More to follow as the Census 2011 and Census 2011 ‘No Religion’ campaign progresses.


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How to get 1000+ Comments on your blog

subtitled: Does Catholic World Youth Day = Tolerance?

So how do you get 1,000+ comments? Write an article expounding how wonderful the Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD) is going to be, or tell everyone you are an angry atheist, e.g. Greta Christina’s post Atheists and Anger. This post won’t be either.

Thanks to CASE, I’ve spent the last couple of days trawling through the over 1000+ comments in response to Bishop Anthony Fisher’s article titled: World Youth Day = Tolerance.

Fisher opens his article with saying how wonderful our ‘Christian’ country is, then goes on to say

But many of ‘Gen Y’ lack a connection with any church or religion. … They are less involved than they could be in church life or the broader community.

This is possibly due to ‘Gen Y’ being more inquisitive and knowledgeable than any other previous generation. They are not so easily taken in by old time religious dogmas, partly due to an increase in critical thinking. So what’s Fisher’s answer? Hold a World Youth Day. Which may or may not actually get any of the youths to become more active within the church [1]. He then spruiks the line that there is a necessary cost to government but a net benefit in terms of tourism and commerce.

One would have to admit that any event requires some degree of support from government; additional security, transportation, etc. However Fisher’s statement

… and for a much smaller outlay by government than is usual for big events.

is quite probably wrong, and the article Almighty cost of hosting pilgrims states that our government is paying up to four times more than the equivalent events held in Canada and Germany.

Of the $163.9M cost in Germany only $24.59M came out of government coffers. Of the $C120M cost in Canada, government subsidies were only $C18M.

So why of the estimated $200M Sydney’s C-WYD is going to cost, is over $100M coming from State government and $55M from the Federal Government?

Fisher’s next line of attack defence is the old line “but everyone will benefit”, as he puts it

But there is more to WYD than that. When 125,000 young pilgrims from overseas join up to 100,000 young Aussies for the week of celebrations, it will be a magical time for all Sydney, and for all Australia, not just the Catholics, not just the youth. Ordinary people will themselves join the pilgrims in big numbers and will be emotionally and spiritually uplifted.

I think I discredited the “magical time for all” once before. To add to that, from all the negative publicity and responses the C-WYD has been getting, I certainly don’t see too many ‘ordinary’ people being uplifted in any way.

To be a bit facetious, all I can say is; when 125,000 youths join up with 100,000 youths for a week I sure hope they, as my dad once said, “if you can’t behave, be careful” I wonder if the condom manufacturers have been doing overtime lately 😆

I think it’s time for a favourite placard of mine:


The article then has a go at the “wowsers” as he calls us, and accuses us of being against big celebrations and taking fright they are coming. I for one are not against big celebrations, I enjoyed going to the Olympics in 2000, and whilst never having been to one, the Gay Mardi Gras parades look like a lot of fun. Yes, there is a fair bit of the problem being the cost and the disruption to Sydney, but the bigger concern is the Catholic church trying to garner more recruits. As much as the Catholics would love this to be a christian and preferably catholic, nation; it still is (mostly) a secular nation. One that is (or at least should be) free from religion and free of religion.

But there is something else behind the negativity. We see it at times in public debate. A range of views are welcomed, but as soon as a religious leader or perspective is introduced some seek to exclude it. The three quarters of Australians who believe in God must check their beliefs into the cloakroom before entering the public square.

No, the problem is that religious groups always hold themselves above critique, they expect respect just because they are religious. A range of views are always welcomed but when a view is based on some false dogma then, quite rightly, the view should be, if not outrightly excluded, at least tempered with the knowledge it is based on a particular religious dogma, not necessarily on any rational thought.

Fisher throws in the line “three quarters of Australians who believe in God” as if the argument from numbers holds weight that those beliefs are valid.

For a start in the last census (2006) there were only 64% claiming to be Christians. As we all know the census question on religion is skewed and a percentage of people just tick the box of the religion they were brought up in (cultural or traditional Christians) [2]. So whilst a large percentage of the population might confess to believing in a “God”, how many actual religious people are there? Even the Catholic church itself has stated that of the ‘supposedly’ 5.1 million Catholics in Australia only 14% of those attend church.

I wonder how many of the people who profess a belief in “god” are just apatheists or apagnostics? People who are apathetic in actually thinking about their beliefs. People who’ve just never really bothered to question what they’ve been told from birth.

The state must remain neutral with respect to religion and withhold financial support from anything with a whiff of incense about it. Religious beliefs and practices should be kept out of sight.

Bishop Fisher says that like it’s a bad thing. He says we are not being very tolerant in objecting to C-WYD and religion in general. Since when has religion ever been tolerant of anything? Talk about hypocrisy. Fisher then spouts some more ill-considered rhetoric, but this is quite deceitful

Are we happy with the idea that as long as Catholics (Jews? Muslims? Aborigines? Feminists?) keep to themselves and avoid publicity they will be left alone?

See how he’s lumped Aborigines and Feminists into the mix (note he didn’t put Gays in this list, as we all now how ‘tolerant’ the Catholic church is to gays). As though saying, if we have to shut up Catholics then we have to shut up all discussion. This is very disingenuous, as the debate is with religion in general not with all causes. Religion is based on beliefs for which there is no basis for evidence. Topics such as Feminists are based on equality and real life problems, not about any imaginary sky gods.

Fisher points out that we should be tolerant of religion because

of the good religions do and collaboration by the state with churches on things like education, health, welfare, …

There is great debate on these topics which I won’t go into here (maybe a topic for another post), but we all know how good a tax break they get for doing some of these things.

The final six paragraphs of his sermon, are along the lines that by holding C-WYD and indoctrinating, oops, brainwashing, oops, I mean creating mass hysteria, sorry, “renew[ing] the values and ideals of a new generation?” they “will be laying foundations for a better world.” Cough cough, yeah right.

[1] See also my previous post: God’s Mosh Pit.

[2] See also my previous post: Christianity – a declining population

If, by some chance you are one of the few people who have never read Greta’s Atheists and Anger post, I highly recommend it. Just note, she also discusses sex on her blog and has adverts for sexually oriented products, so her blog comes with a Not Safe For Work (NSFW) rating.

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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?


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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.  🙂


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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?


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