Welcome to this week’s Secular Sunday.
This week, we’re focusing on the results of Census 2011 that were released on Thursday. We also have the usual round-up of the week’s other news and a list of upcoming events.
The firsd results of last year’s census have been released, and make interesting reading. Here are some of the highlights:
- 269,811 people – or 5.9% of the population – selected the “No Religion” option for question 12, an increase of 44.8% over the 2006 census. 176,180 of these were Irish nationals, a 64.4% increase over 2006.
- Additionally, 3,905 people selected “Other” and wrote in “Atheist” (a 320% increase), while 3,521 wrote “Agnostic” (a 132% increase).
- 72,914 people did not state their religion (a 4% increase). This means that a total of 350,151 people – 7.6% of the population – did not identify with a religion in the census.
- 58% of those choosing “No Religion” were male – as were 66% of those writing “Atheist” and 59% of those writing “Agnostic”.
- Dublin is the least religious county with 8.9% of the population selecting “No Religion”, followed by Wicklow at 7.9%. Monaghan is the most religious county with a mere 2.4% of the population selecting “No Religion” closely followed by Offaly with 2.6%.
- The most detailed breakdown of the population by religion currently available (here, page 104) shows a list 24 religious categories (including “Atheist”, “Agnostic”, and “Lapsed Catholic”). It records that 14,118 people stated a religion other than those listed. This excludes Christian religions as they are accounted for separately, and if the statistics have been presented honestly, each of these religions has fewer than 336 adherents (the number identifying as “Brethren”, the smallest religion given its own category in the results.) Therefore, there must be at least 42 other, non-Christian religions represented in the state – and likely at least double that number. This means – among other things – that the case for denomination-based schooling collapses, and even the multi-denominational model currently being proposed is exposed as unworkable. It is also likely that the statistics have not been presented honestly and that more than 336 people gave an answer that was not considered acceptable – such as “Jedi” or “Pastafarian”. Given that 0.7% of the population of England and Wales gave their religion as “Jedi” in 2001, and that this phenomenon has become more widespread in the decade since then, it is not inconceivable that at least one-tenth of that percentage did the same in the census here. Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s certain that this figure hides some interesting details. We will endeavour to obtain this information from the CSO and report on it.
If all those numbers have made your head spin, we’re working on some graphs and charts that will make things clearer. If you want to try your hand at data mining, there’s a lot of stuff available at the official CSO census site, including interactive tables so you can compare a lot of datasets. If you find anything interesting, let us know. Even better, turn it into a graph or chart and we’ll feature it next week.
Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign to have the census question changed to reduce the bias towards the Catholic Church. We’ll also be examining the data that have already been released and those that will be released in the future, and reporting our findings.
- Atheist Ireland has made a written submission to the the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee for the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). This is a follow-up to our meeting with this group in February when they were in Dublin monitoring Ireland’s record in protecting human rights. Read it here.
- We are pleased to announce that the respected Irish writer John Waters will be contributing an occasional column for Secular Sunday. In his introductory column about Religion without God, Mr Waters explains how he has reverted to the intellectual atheism of his teenage years, while still retaining the religion of his adulthood, after studying the philosophical works of Alain de Botton. Read it here.
- Friday 13 April, 4:00 pm, The Gallery, The Helix, Dublin
How they ‘split the atom’ and brought the news to the world. Part of the year-long Dublin City of Science celebrations, this event marks the 80th anniversary of the splitting of the atom. Registration is required. Details here
- Thursday 19 April, 6.30 pm, Friends House, 173-77 Euston Road, London, England. Michael Nugent will be debating with Sami Zaatari of the Muslim Debate Initiative on the topic: “Is religion less relevant to modern society?”. Admission is free, so if you happen to be in London on that Thursday, drop in.
Till next time, stay skeptical,
Editor, Secular Sunday