We’ve received our census form at our place, but I haven’t gone through it yet. With a week to go before the official census night, I’d like to remind my fellow irreligious heathens to please tick the ‘No religion’ box on your form. Answering the religion question is optional, but doing so will contribute towards a more accurate picture of religiosity levels in Australia. Our New Zealand neighbours had their last census in 2006, with 34.7 percent of Kiwis professing no religion. Impressive. Let’s see if we can get a higher percentage of godless folk than those Hobbit-lovers.
The Mark ‘No Religion’ campaign has raised awareness about the secularist cause championed by the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) along with other atheist, humanist and secularist groups and individuals. The purpose of the campaign was not to tell Australians how to fill out their census forms, but to encourage those who aren’t religious to answer the religion question honestly and correctly. Which is what a certain census collector did not do when he suggested that a Canberra couple mark themselves as Christian even if they weren’t.
According to David Rollston, the census collector told him and his wife that “if people were only nominally Christian or non-practising, they should indicate in the census they were Christian, otherwise the demographic could be swayed” and they “would end up with a Muslim prayer centre nearby”.
Now, one might ask how is this different to what the AFA is doing with its Mark ‘No Religion’ campaign? Well, for one thing, the AFA isn’t encouraging people to lie about their religiosity or lack of it. And for another, the AFA isn’t a government representative who is ethically bound to remain impartial on census matters.