Don’t be afraid to tick ‘no religion’

From: Mike Granville

Secretary, Sheffield Humanist Society

The 2011 Census is upon us and I would like to ask your readers to pay particular attention to one of the questions.

The question (Q20) relates to religion. We know that it is customary for people to think, “I don’t go to church but I was brought up a christian so I must still be one”. Something like 72% of people said that last time and we all know that this is not a true reflection of this nation.

Also, people might not be aware that these figures feed directly into government policy-making, such as a continued increase in the number of faith schools (a dangerously divisive policy), public funding of faith-based organisations, keeping 26 bishops in the House of Lords at a time when it should be undergoing reform, many hours of religious broadcasting, and continued privileges and exemptions for religious groups in the recent Equality and other legislation.

If your readers are among those who still really believe in the Virgin birth, the crucifixion and resurrection, the Trinity etc, then of course it is appropriate for them to answer “christian” to Q20. Other faiths will have their own similar basic beliefs.

But I would ask others to consider the following. Church attendance, as measured by the churches themselves, has plummeted and this has been borne out by a recent survey by Populus, for the Searchlight Educational Trust in January this year. This survey shows, based on a large sample, that;

l55% of people never attend a place of worship (a clear majority).

l68% of people said that religion should not influence laws and policies in Britain.

Sheffield Humanists will be running a street stall in the city centre on Saturdays 19th and 26th March and more, similar information will be available there.

I am asking your readers to think carefully about their answers to Q20, and to answer truthfully. Declaring oneself to be a Jedi Knight or a follower of “Dudeism” (see The Great Lebowski) might be a bit of fun but this is a bit more serious than that.

If you have no religion tick the “No Religion” box against Q20