Census question and "cultural identity"

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bockedy
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Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by bockedy » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 pm

Hey folks. Have a look at this BBC news item here - Two-thirds of Britons not religious - the result of a poll commissioned by the BHA in the run-up to the UK census in a few days time.

Like the Atheist Ireland campaign, the BHA is campaigning for people to answer the UK census question "What is your religion?" based on actual beliefs rather than on some notion of cultural identity.

Here's the bit that piqued my interest and shows how the dice are loaded:
The Office for National Statistics has defended the wording of the religion question.
A spokesman told the BBC: "The religion question measures the number of people who self-identify an affiliation with a religion, irrespective of the extent of their religious belief or practice."
The same no doubt is argued here in Ireland. Way to conflate issues.

Reading on:
The think tank Theos, which undertakes research into religious matters, says attempting to measure cultural affiliation to religion - rather than actual, regular practice - is a good idea, as it shows the broad values society shares.
Any good (and short i.e. easily transmitted in social media) counter-arguments to the above?
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mrodub
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Re: Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by mrodub » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:19 pm

I made a vid on this topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cns44mnqIRw

I dont address that question posed exactly as you denoted but i do touch on it. I will look into it more though its an interesting question.
DaithiDublin
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Re: Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by DaithiDublin » Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:20 pm

The Office for National Statistics has defended the wording of the religion question.
A spokesman told the BBC: "The religion question measures the number of people who self-identify an affiliation with a religion, irrespective of the extent of their religious belief or practice."
Hard to say, without having seen the actual census question. If it specifically asks 'What religion would you affiliate yourself with, irrespective of the extent of your religious belief or practice?' then it'd be fair. But I suspect their census question will look very much like ours: What is your religion?
The think tank Theos, which undertakes research into religious matters, says attempting to measure cultural affiliation to religion - rather than actual, regular practice - is a good idea, as it shows the broad values society shares.
You wouldn't expect anything else from Theo. The way they make a direct connection between religion and values tells all. And is bizarre in the UK, of all places. If values are what you are trying to assess, then why not include categories like humanist, vegetarian, animal lover, voluntary worker, or any number of others whose values are not based on religion?
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Ygern
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Re: Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by Ygern » Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:47 pm

Here's the actual wording.
The "culture" argument is a little weak, but basically it refers to people who for example would have their children do the baptism / Communion / Confession thing and attend mass at Christmas & Easter even though they prefer to spend most Sunday mornings sleeping in.
I can't see why they wouldn't identify as Catholics, regardless of whether they are "good" Catholics in terms of Church doctrine.

People who don't participate in any Church activities or rituals might still self-identify as Catholic I suppose, but its less and less likely these days - probably very few would really want to align themselves with the scandal-ridden institution unless they did still entertain some belief in it.
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mrodub
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Re: Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by mrodub » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:46 pm

Ygern wrote:
People who don't participate in any Church activities or rituals might still self-identify as Catholic I suppose, but its less and less likely these days - probably very few would really want to align themselves with the scandal-ridden institution unless they did still entertain some belief in it.
I was of that opinion but i have to say i am surprised by the number of pms on YouTube i have gotten from Catholics who still feel they are part of the church culturally.

Most agree with my vid thus far but the main point that comes up for people is that their families are Catholic and they would be nervous about telling them they thought the church was full of shit.

Maybe i was a bit naive but i honestly thought that professing disbelief or lack of allegiance to the church in this country was no big deal for most people but i am beginning to get a different impression from some of the viewers of my vid.
Ygern
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Re: Census question and "cultural identity"

Post by Ygern » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:23 pm

i am surprised by the number of pms on YouTube i have gotten from Catholics who still feel they are part of the church culturally.
How many of them said that they had no belief at all though?

The distinction I was trying to make is that if you remove the conventional things that make you belong to a religion i.e. belief in that god and belief in that institution's doctrines & dogmas; then all you have left is the culture. You could be a cultural Jew and use Yiddish phrases and eat gefilte fish and matzo balls but not have anything to do with the religious parts of Judaism.

However, not being too bothered about going to church on Sunday morning doesn't make you a cultural Catholic. If someone still believes in having their child baptised & making its first communion, then their affiliation is more than just cultural - there are undeniable elements of religious belief attached to that.

People should please jump in and have their say on this, but I would be interested in seeing what people who genuinely have zero belief in the Christian God really believe constitutes Catholic culture. Dara O'Briain's rather tongue-in-cheek wikipedia quote aside - which I might add is material from one of his shows, and therefore cannot be taken as an accurate reflection of how he really fills out the census form - what constitutes a non-believing cultural Catholic? I am not so sure once you unpack the concept that there really is such a thing.
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