Be Honest about Religion in the Irish Census on Sunday 10 April

Be Honest in the Census
Be Honest in the Irish Census on Sunday 10 April. Think before you tick your answer to the religion question, and give an answer that matches your actual religious affiliation. If you still believe in God but you are no longer truly a Roman Catholic, please say so. If you are an atheist or agnostic or humanist and you have no religion, please tick the ‘No Religion’ box.

Atheist Ireland wants to see accurate answers to the question on religion. The last Census showed 3.7 million Roman Catholics (that’s about 87% of the population) and 186,000 people with no religion (that’s about 4% of the population). We believe the true figure for Roman Catholics is much lower than 87%, and the true figure for people with no religion is much higher than 4%.

We believe that this inaccuracy happens because many people tick their childhood religion out of habit, or tick a religion that they don’t really practice, or let somebody else fill in the answer for them. But you won’t write in your childhood home address unless you still live there. So don’t write in your childhood religion unless you still really practice it.

Why is this important?

The Census results are used to predict future demand for State services such as schools and hospitals, and other policies. If we get a falsely very high figure for Roman Catholics, and a falsely very low figure for people with no religion, it makes it more likely that the State will discriminate against people of other religions and nonreligious people when providing these services.

Also, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin says that it “does not make use of baptismal registers for calculating the Catholic population of the Archdiocese of Dublin. It relies solely on the data from the Central Statistics Office, obtained through the census, by which citizens themselves choose to record, or not, their religious affiliation.”

So careless answers to the question of religion will have an impact on the allocation of State resources, and on the political lobbying power of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. If you want a fair future based on accurate statistics, please answer this question honestly.

Honest to Godless
If you grew up as a Roman Catholic, and you still believe in God but you are no longer truly a Roman Catholic:

  • Please don’t tick a religion you don’t actually practice.
  • Please don’t tick your childhood religion out of habit.
  • Please don’t let someone else fill in your answer.
  • Please don’t ignore the question. Answer it honestly.

Instead, please answer whatever most accurately reflects your true religious affiliation. For example, you can write ‘Christian’ (or something else) in the ‘Other Religion’ box. Or you can tick the ‘No Religion’ box if you believe you are spiritual but not religious.

Obviously the same principles apply if you grew up as a member of any other religion that you no longer practice. We are focusing on Roman Catholicism because getting this figure accurate will have by far the most impact on the allocation of State services and other policies.

Please follow this link to see what the Census question will look like, and how the Roman Catholic figure has changed since the 1961 Census.

Honest to Godless
If you are an atheist or agnostic or humanist and you have no religion, please tick the box marked ‘No Religion’.

  • Please don’t tick a religion you don’t actually practice.
  • Please don’t tick your childhood religion out of habit.
  • Please don’t let someone else fill in your answer.
  • Please don’t write in ‘Atheist’. It’s not a religion.
  • Please don’t write in anything that’s not a religion.
  • Please don’t ignore the question. Answer it honestly.

Please follow this link to see what the Census question will look like, and how the ‘No Religion’ figure has changed since the 1961 Census.

Summary

Census figures for other religions may also be inaccurate in the Census, but the figures for ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘No Religion’ are likely to have the most impact on the allocation of state services and other policies. They are the largest and second-largest answers for the religion question, and getting them right will have the most impact.

So be honest in the Irish Census on Sunday 10 April. Think before you tick your answer to the religion question, and give an answer that matches your actual religious affiliation. If you still believe in God but you are no longer a Roman Catholic, please say so. If you are an atheist or agnostic or humanist and you have no religion, please tick the ‘No Religion’ box.

What else can you do to help?

  • Please let us know if you would like to help in any way.
  • Please like whichever of the Facebook pages for the campaign that you identify with: Be Honest about Religion, Be Honest to God and Be Honest to Godless.
  • We’ll be running a wider publicity campaign closer to the Census date, and we’ll need help with that in different parts of the country.
  • If you are involved in any organisation that might support this campaign, please raise it at your next meeting.
  • If you have any imaginative ideas for spreading the word, or if you would like to donate any funding for this campaign, please let us know.
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17 Comments

  1. Quinny
    Posted 14 January, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Good idea best of luck…..Agnostic by the way..

  2. Aine Ridgeway
    Posted 15 January, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry but I cannot agree with what u r asking people to do. It appears as tho d Q in the Census will ask what religion u r not what religion do u practice? r even ‘do u believe in God?’ I was baptised a Roman Catholic and although I do not practice to the letter of my religion’s creed it is my fundamental right to refer to myself as such and that is the answer I will tick on the form. I attend chuch from time to time and also attend services at my local Church of Ireland and I fully respect the rights of everyone to refer to themselves by the religion into which they were born despite the level to which they practice. I think Irish people are intelligent and articulate enough to make the decision by themselves as to what they answer to the Q. I know this is not intentional on your part and ur aim is to do good but reading ur website I was reminded of a time long ago when the first abortion amendment referendum was held here and as it was in the pre scandal revelation days n d churches were still pretty full on sundays, the clergy took the opportunity to TELL the congregation what box to select as they may be confused by the ambiguous wording. Despite d anger n feeling of being totally patronised I voted as my conscience advised not theirs. I like to think that others did d same. Religion to many is a vital part of who dey r and how dey live der lives and we must each respect dat – not practising is not d same as having no religion – who is 2 say what constitutes practising /not practising? We r all in dis country shocked to d core by the church scandal and its inability to c dat people will no longer accept its infallability and inability to move 4ward from d days of instilling fear n superstition. But unless Roman Catholics r unbaptised (I dont think dat can b done n I dont think I’d want it anyway!) isnt it r rite 2 stay and fight 4 change and not just assume a /non religious’ stance? I believe dat r democratically elected Government led us 2 dis economic nightmare with der eyes wide open as 2 what was happening I will join d thousands of others protesting against the state of r country and its so called rescue plan that will cripple us individually n while at moment there seems very little 2 be proud of being irish when d question on d census is what nationality r u – will i anser No because I am against my governments practices! No of course not!

    U also say in ur website with regard to state services that If we get a falsely very high figure for Roman Catholics, and a falsely very low figure for people with no religion, it makes it more likely that the State will discriminate against people of other religions and nonreligious people when providing these services. I know u may well provide me with statistics 2 back dis but I can honestly say dat I have not seen evidence of same in this country. Any schools which I have had dealings with as my children were growing up have been open to children of all races and religion and I am not aware of any instances of RC education being forced on any child who is not of dat persuasion. My 9 year old attends a small CofI school with children of many denominations and again I have 2 say I have never seen r heard of a case of discrimination due to religious or indeed non religious belief. With regard to r current health service I have yet 2 be in an A&E where Christians were given preference over jews muslims atheists r any other religion. One thing u can b sure of in d irish health system is being on a long waiting list regardless of religious affiliation!! No one can accuse dis country of discriminating against who it treats badly!!!!!!

    U say dat Atheism is not a religion. The dictionary defines it as being a committed non believer. Basically the atheist belongs to a sytem of belief devoted to being an ‘unbeliever’. Whether u agree r not Atheism has managed to evolve in2 d new religion an evolution in part due to people like Richard Dawkins an amazing scientist who unfortunately has become a fanaticist intent on converting the whole world to Atheism. Intolerance of the diversity of society can never ever lead to a Utopian Society where God no longer exists and all are equal. U dont believe in God, I do – yet u r my equal and I am yours – what’s wrong with dat? U also say that spiritualism is not a religion – again I disagree – a bit of googling n u will
    c dat it is very much a religion.

    I apologise if u think I am in any way against Atheism r dis website – I can assure u I am not! This website has as much right to stand as any other – people r fundamentally entitled as human beings to choose 2 b atheist and 2 access information as any other human being is entitled 2 do. I just object to the wording of our advice 2 people with regard 2 d census Q. Irish people have taken a very tough battering in latter years but at d end of d day we are an intelligent wise community who can make der own decisions and shud never b told what dey r in terms of religion r anything else. By all means recommend 2 people 2 consider carefully what answer they may wish to give but please dont tell dem which way dey shud answer – there is a huge difference between d two!

  3. Deist
    Posted 23 January, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I am against atheism.
    They way you behave is off-putting.
    You force your views on everyone as much as Christians do.

    Of course I’ll stand by your right to practice your lack of religious beliefs though.

  4. Posted 25 January, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Great idea. Didn’t realise I had to practice at being an atheist though. News to me.

  5. CMac
    Posted 4 February, 2011 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Great campaign, I think there will be a huge jump in the no. of atheists this time as a lot of people are very angry at the church and rightly so. Things were different 7 years ago and most people just didn’t care.

  6. Guineapig
    Posted 7 March, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    @Aine Ridgeway
    Well said. However, one thing I would disagree with you on is your definition of atheism. Athiesm is, in my book, defined as having no belief. I don’t “practise” athiesm. There is nothing to practise. It is for me, the very absence of belief that defines atheism. There is nothing to replace the absence of any god. For me, I am simply a human being without a religious belief, doing my best to be good to other human beings. It’s not a belief or religion. It is simply humanity.

    I have to admit that I find the over-bearing, dismissive and patronising attitude of people like Richard Dawkins towards those practising a religion or believing in a god, to be slightly off-putting.

    Any idea/thought/religion/system that tells someone what to think or what they should believe in should be approached with caution.

    However, I also feel that those who were born Roman Catholic but no longer practise are a difficult group to define. Maybe there should be a box on the census that one can tick to show this statistic.

    I really wish humans in general would wise up to the fact that it’s okay for us to not all be the same; for us to have different beliefs; for us to just get on. We’re all inhabitants on this small blue ball hurtling through space, whether Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jew or Athiest.

  7. Posted 10 March, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Religion isn’t denoted by what religion your parents are, and therefore what religion you were “born” into. What religion you are is what religion you are a member of- what church you practice in, what religion you follow the guidance of.

    This is a very tricky question, one I’ve been thinking about recently because I’m unsure what to tick. I’m not a member of any particular religion- so therefore I should tick “non religious”. However, I do believe in God, I do pray, I do meditate, and I do strive to carry out God’s will for me on a daily basis.

  8. Posted 10 March, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    “It is simply humanity” Approach with caution ;)

  9. Paul Dixon
    Posted 11 March, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    @Aine Ridgeway

    R u ¬ abl 2 rite nglsh..?

  10. Tomorrowstruth
    Posted 16 March, 2011 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Atheism is a religion, no matter what they say.
    I would never advocate taking the stone-age stories of the bible literal, but we have to acknowledge that “You” and “Me” are as real as teapots between earth and mars.
    As real as “God”.
    Our being is inherently mythical – we can not represent ourselves.
    Science and reason only know the “third person”, not the second or first.

    The worst aspect of Atheism is that it claims to be “beyond delusion” when unfortunately it is based on an enormous ignorance of the human situation.
    There is no old man in the clouds reaching down from the cloud, but there also is no “you” inside your brain running things either.

  11. Rich from Iowa
    Posted 28 March, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Atheism a religion? Not if you know the definition of the word.

    Not believing in god is a religion the same way not golfing is a sport and not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  12. Lion IRC
    Posted 30 March, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    In the 2006 .au Census, question 19 went out of its way to help coach atheists/agnostics in how they should fill out the answer. It couldnt have been more simple to understand….

    “If no religion, mark the ‘No religion’ box.”

    Do … you … understand … this … advice … ?
    Would … you … like … someone … to … explain … it … further ?

    And yet the Atheist Foundation of Aust is still running a campaign like this one for the 2011 census to, once again, encourage and help atheists and agnostics to say what they think. *shakes head*

  13. Posted 10 April, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    ‘Be Honest’ just means ‘Be Honest’: whatever it is you believe, say ‘that’s what I believe’ and there’s no harm in thinking about a question like that before you answer it either.

  14. eoghan
    Posted 12 April, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Christianity :

    The belief that some cosmic jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib – woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    makes perfect sense to me.

  15. Michael
    Posted 13 April, 2011 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Done and done. Ticked “no religion” on the census form. Hopefully more atheists will let their voices be heard and be true to their selves in the process.

  16. Justin Eckstein
    Posted 21 April, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Why is it that Muslims claim Moses was a prophet and the 10 Commandments given to Moses by OUR HEAVENLY FATHER on Mount Sinai clearly gives OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’s Commandment not to kill while they believe in killing those who will not convert, and killing for other various reasons under Shari’a Law? Do Not Kill; there are no ifs, ands, or buts. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, who created all in Heaven and on Earth, made that Commandment expressly clear. Any Prophets to come along later have supported all those Commandments given by OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER is greater than absolutely everyone and absolutely everything. Do Not Kill; there are no ifs, ands, or buts. We apparently are not to kill others; that is not our purpose. Supposedly Mohammed said something different. So either Mohammed agreed with those Commandments and didn‘t actually say what he supposedly said, or Mohammed wasn’t a prophet. And if Mohammed agreed that those Commandments came from OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, then Mohammed didn’t try to argue with them or change them to fit his own agenda. Maybe that ‘Book Burning’ in the 7th century A.D. (C.E.) wasn’t just to ‘standardize’ but to ‘cover-up’ the Truth. I’m not trying to argue religion here; or trying to argue doctrine. It just does not make any sense. If Christians and Jews killed people as Muslims kill people, then most of the world would kill each other off. Do Not Kill; there are no ifs, ands, or buts. May OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’s Will Be Done.

  17. Tooooooooooooooooman
    Posted 12 October, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Well, if you claim of the underepresentation of Atheists were correct, it seems that this campaign was a big FAIL. Or else consider that maybe, JUST maybe, that Atheists are as insignificant of a minority as Muslims are.

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