Be Honest to God in the Irish Census on Sunday 10 April

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

What will the census question look like?


The question will look something like the extract above. If you’re not truly a Roman Catholic, we’re asking you to not tick box number 1, which says ‘Roman Catholic’. Instead please answer whatever most accurately reflects your true religious affiliation.

For example, you can either write ‘Christian’ (or something else) in box number 6, which says ‘Other: write in your RELIGION’. Or  you can tick box number 7, which says ‘No Religion’, if you believe you are spiritual but not religious.

Please remember that the Census is not a survey of theological beliefs. It is a measure of social changes, including in religious affiliation, to help plan the allocation of State services and other policies.

How many Irish people are Roman Catholic?

The figure for Roman Catholics has steadily dropped from 95% (in 1961), to 94% (in 1971), to 93% (in 1981), to 91% (in 1991), to 88% (in 2002) and 87% (in 2006). With even normal change, that figure should be lower now. And with the dramatic changes in Irish society since the last Census, the true figure may be much lower.

Just last year Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said that Ireland “is undergoing a veritable revolution of its religious culture” but “many in Ireland and in the church in Ireland have not yet understood the full extent of the cultural change taking place and continue to act as if we were still simply living in a culture with a Catholic majority”.

We believe Archbishop Martin is correct about this. We hope that the Census results for 2011 will accurately reflect this. You can help to make this happen.

What else can you do to help?

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5 Comments

  1. Aine Ridgeway
    Posted 15 January, 2011 at 9:31 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 telligent wise community who can make der own decisions and shud never b told what dey r inI’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 telligent 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 2

  2. yes2beginning
    Posted 17 January, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Where do the intrusions into our private space ever end??!! I mean, merely getting people to be ‘honest’ here, for the sake of ‘truth’, is obviously disingenuous and a form of intellectual snobbery…Assuming people (brainwashed and moronic) are ‘careless’ (because they don’t give you what you want) is downright weird. People can put whatever they like on their own census form and it’s nobody’s business. (unless of course they can’t read/write and need some evil cackling mercenary to do it for them against their own conscience) Get lost, dude!

    That it involves religion….surprise, surprise….we all have our own worries, don’t we?!

  3. Ciarán MacAoidh
    Posted 25 January, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    @yes2beginning You may not agree with Atheist Ireland’s campaign but I can’t see where the disingenuity comes in. The campaign states its aims and its reasons; there is no trickery and no snobbery. Atheist Ireland attempted to have the CSO frame the question in a better way but was refused for very poor reasons. Aside from that, you are dead right, people can put down whatever they like on their census forms and Atheist Ireland are not attempting to coerce the public. Instead it makes a case and accepts that people will make up their minds.

  4. John Colgan
    Posted 2 February, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I have asked the CSO to changed the loaded and misleading question, as the UK and other ex-British colonies have done (including Northern Ireland), but no, the head of the section refused, in the interests of consistency (with the past misleading data). A revised version could have been piloted this year, as is the norm. The question is not answered by each person in a household, but is answered by what we used to call ‘Head of Household’, and will involve guessing, or wishful thinking of that person is unsure of others religions, or is religiously conservative. It could be argued that in a State which purports to be a Republic, the State ought not to carry out free market research for instititutional churches, or for Atheist Ireland. My expectation is that when the fraction of non-aligned persons gets uncomfortably large, the question will be dropped!

  5. caia
    Posted 7 March, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    The thing I find oddest about this design is how Islam and No Religion do not correspond to the other religious terms in the list.

    What do I mean? Well, the question is “What is your religion?” but the answers are phrased as adjectives, as in a sentence people would say, “I am _______.” “I am Roman Catholic,” “I am Church of Ireland.” All the Christian religious affiliations fit this mold.

    And then *record screech* “I am Islam”? No, a person who follows Islam is a Muslim. Suddenly, the word is a noun. “I am No Religion”? No, “I have no religion.” If the other religions were nouns, they’d be Roman Catholicism, Methodism, etc. (Not sure how CoI works?)

    How could this not have been noticed? Was it intentional? Were the people who wrote it just uncomfortable enough with the idea of Muslims and atheists that they couldn’t make the terms all match up?

    I also wonder if it’s to split the vote on the write-ins. After all, if some of the Wiccans write in “Wicca” and some write in “Wiccan”, those could be split into two categories. Same if half the Jews write in “Jewish” and half write in “Judaism”. They’d hardly be to blame for not knowing which format the form wants, since the form can’t seem to decide itself!

One Trackback

  • By Anonymous on 19 January, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    [...] Apologies if this has already been mentioned, but to all above who have said they no longer attend mass or are no longer catholics or are amazed at how people can still go to mass and give money to this organisation, please see the following Census campaign: Be honest to God in the Census Be Honest to God in the Irish Census on Sunday 10 April | Atheist Ireland [...]