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← Census: How religious is the UK?

Census: How religious is the UK? - Comments

JonPlant's Avatar Comment 1 by JonPlant

"It's a question that is worded in the most sensitive way possible, says historian and broadcaster Nick Barratt"

What bollocks. How would "Do you have any religious beliefs - if so what are they?" be in any way less sensitive than the wildly leading "What is your religion?"

Besides, isn't the point of a census to find out information?

If a question is unnecessary, don't ask it; if it is necessary and in the name of avoiding offence you ask it in such a way as to rob it of all relevance, you may as well not have asked it in the first place.

Outside of an unlikely tactic of working in some racial slurs, is there even a way to pose this question that could cause justifiable offence?

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 17:53:12 UTC | #594055

Inquisitor Mence's Avatar Comment 2 by Inquisitor Mence

It just needs more detail, the information based on the oversimplified nature of the question is worthless.

I think we need to exert pressure to have this judged in a more careful manner if it is to affect policy in any way. If it isn't to affect government in any way, I want that in writing too.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 17:56:05 UTC | #594056

gordon's Avatar Comment 3 by gordon


Mon, 21 Feb 2011 17:57:46 UTC | #594058

skeelo's Avatar Comment 4 by skeelo

I put 'Jedi' last time, but it'll be plain old 'no religion' this time around.

I blame Jar-Jar Binks for my loss of faith.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:07:00 UTC | #594061

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by God fearing Atheist

I hope the "atheist awareness" campaigns in general, and the "BHA census" campaign in particular, have worked to the extend that "Christian" does not get ticked by default.

BHA fund raising for the census campaign here

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:09:15 UTC | #594063

JackR's Avatar Comment 6 by JackR

To be honest, I don't have a big problem with this since the first option is "No Religion". That pretty clearly suggests the same thing as, "What is your religion - if you have one?"

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:10:49 UTC | #594066

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 7 by Marc Country

"If you said 'none', it is like you have no belief or faith, but 'no religion' means you may have.""

Good lord, what an improvement! Now, if you check the "no religion" box, even THAT can be interpreted as meaning you may still subscribe to superstitious beliefs! This Nick Barratt guy is freaking brilliant!

"The results are used to... develop policy to best cater for people's religious backgrounds."

Again, I'm stunned. How wonderful that secular political policies will be tailored to appease and pander to the continuing culture of pre-enlightenment superstition!

"So even if a question is slightly flawed, it's better to stick with it."

Slightly? That's too modest, by far....

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:13:09 UTC | #594067

lackofgravitas's Avatar Comment 8 by lackofgravitas

I'm still a Jedi, and proud of it. Still working on the mind tricks. Do sarcasm and bitter irony count?

As for the census itself, I think it's better to get accurate figures once and for all. It's a little tiring having to read how 50% of the nation is xtian, 30% muslim and 40% non-religious. Someone has been telling porkies haven't they?

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:14:21 UTC | #594068

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 9 by mlgatheist

Comment Removed by Author

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:21:35 UTC | #594070

Hammert1me's Avatar Comment 10 by Hammert1me

Atleast 'no religion' is the first option, rather than buried at the back.

I'm hoping for a double digit swing this year, to 40% no religion.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:23:03 UTC | #594072

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 11 by mlgatheist

Blockquote So even if a question is slightly flawed, it's better to stick with it.

I would disagree. A flawed question that gives a false impression or incorrect answer is worse that dropping the question all together.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:23:10 UTC | #594074

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by God fearing Atheist

The "Jedi" thing was jolly good fun last time around, but the BHA are suggesting just ticking "No religion" this time. The justification is on the BHA website.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:25:04 UTC | #594075

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 13 by Hendrix is my gOD

Is there a check box for "insult humorist"? Since it is what I have been doing religiously every day of my life.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:34:54 UTC | #594078

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 14 by strangebrew

Might be mildly amusing if the question is asked this time around...what with Catweazles nighmare And the RC experiencing errm!...some not so local difficulties!

But in general it is wide open to the problem in the USA that have opinion polls claiming something like 70% church going xians...but the churches report their pews are damn near summat is verily amiss b'twixt 'n' b'tween the pompousness of the claims received in census and the reality of bums on seats in the churches.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 18:57:43 UTC | #594087

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 15 by Daniel Williams

It will be a sign of the dark times we live in if all the jedi have gone from the known universe.

But seriously the question should be expanded on.


1 Are you of the opinion that there exists a higher power/creator in the universe? Yes/No

2 Do you consider your self to be religious? Yes/No

3 Are you actively religious? Pray / go to church etcetera. Yes/No

4 If you consider yourself to believe in a god / higher power in the universe and consider yourself religious what religion do you affiliate with? Other Jewish Muslim Etcetera......

That would give a much clearer picture.

Would like to hear any one else's thoughts/imput on how we could improve these questions.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 19:13:13 UTC | #594093

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

It will be interesting to compare the results with the survey we looked at over here.

Today, a quarter of a century on, there has been a steady and remarkable turnaround. In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion. Admittedly, some other surveys – including the last census – have produced different findings on these issues, usually to the advantage of the religious option.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 19:22:18 UTC | #594095

Spawny Rosary's Avatar Comment 17 by Spawny Rosary

the question is the question and can't be changed this time around, but we sure can raise people's awareness of the issue via the census campaign (see other links). fingers crossed and other non-rational ways of influencing a big swing to 'no religion' this time (which may be the last census). I'm biding my time before I post the census campaign on my Facebook feed.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 19:22:46 UTC | #594096

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 18 by Flapjack

Would the faith of those answering 'Jedi' be shaken if they found themselves unable to shift heavy objects using ESP powers and if the authorities realised those were indeed the droids they were looking for? Or would it be clocked up to a disturbance in the force?

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 19:28:02 UTC | #594098

William33's Avatar Comment 19 by William33

Isn't it more important to learn how religious the religious are instead of asking how one would identify themselves as?

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 19:58:28 UTC | #594105

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 20 by aquilacane

How about: Do you require evidence to formulate your beliefs? the following question: Do you have a faith?

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 20:25:27 UTC | #594113

El Rico's Avatar Comment 21 by El Rico

I used to tell people I was a "Buddhist-Nazi", but it never seemed to get the startled reaction I always hoped for. So I'll be reverting to "Samurai" for the census.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 21:21:11 UTC | #594143

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 22 by Rich Wiltshir

With the census, ONE PERSON answers for the household; so there'll be huge numbers of religoons ignoring wishes of some family members (and guests?) whilst stating that the youngsters are christian, muslim, jewish etc. Whereas the Social Attitudes Survey collates information on individuals.

TWO datasets that I'd welcome would be:

1/ Head Of Household (those who complete the form)

2/ Adults only (to disconnect the abusive labelling of kids)

NOW is also the time to start developing our campaign for 2021's census. The religoon aspect of this would be to enquire about the affiliation of all those eligible to vote, together with identifying the religoon upbringing. There was some excellent data on a couple of months ago which illustrated the analysis of religoon-shift from indoctrination to adulthood.

This is part of my email signature:

  From Wilty's iPhone    
 2011 Census = 27 March
    Pro Reality ?                             
     Please see
 This is my preferred                                                  
charity to start 2011

    It's reasonable! Striving to challenge the dilution of eduction that results from religious intrusion... faith schools ... collective worship ... religious education that instructs one belief or creation mythology is superior ... labelling children before they've had chance to form an opinion ... grooming... unelected (26 bishops in the House of Lords) government positions... lobbying locally and globally... blasphemy law's to defend the offensive against offence...

I plan to refine this throughout the year; well, if businesses can fill the email with drivel, so can I..... at least this MAY do some good.

All comments and suggestions welcome, of course.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 21:41:26 UTC | #594146

erindorothy's Avatar Comment 23 by erindorothy

I once wrote 'Wiccan', in the other space, primarily to annoy, and because I was also a bit interested in it all at the time!

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 23:06:18 UTC | #594178

consulscipio236's Avatar Comment 24 by consulscipio236

That is interesting. I didn't think I would come to Richard Dawkin's website and find out that the UK is actually far more religious than I had thought it was. Thanks!

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 23:12:24 UTC | #594180

Toronto Atheist's Avatar Comment 25 by Toronto Atheist

According to the Gospel of Luke, it was a Roman census that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where she gave birth to Jesus Christ.

That would be impossible, since no such census ever took place.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 23:31:20 UTC | #594184

consulscipio236's Avatar Comment 26 by consulscipio236

"That would be impossible, since no such census ever took place."

Actually it probably did

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 00:06:03 UTC | #594199

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion

Comment 13 by Hendrix is my gOD

Is there a check box for "insult humorist"? Since it is what I have been doing religiously every day of my life.

It'll be the "no religion box" this time, but I am sometimes tempted to put "Viking Immigrant" on ethnic origin forms!

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 00:19:34 UTC | #594203

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 28 by Alternative Carpark

On Facebook, my religious beliefs have always been listed as:

Religion is Bollocks!

I believe that the census form should also allow for more detailed answers.

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 01:15:26 UTC | #594214

thatgingerscouser's Avatar Comment 29 by thatgingerscouser

Well, it's not great, but at least 'No Religion' gets primary place on the list, tacit norm.

The fact that the census is completed by the head of the household worries me. In the 2001 census my dad (who is also a determined atheist) refused to put Jedi as my religion 'because it was silly'. He put 'no religion' instead. Which, fair enough, is true... but how pissed would I have been if he was religious and put 'Christian'.


Tue, 22 Feb 2011 01:35:54 UTC | #594219

The Plc's Avatar Comment 30 by The Plc

Comment 24 by consulscipio236 :

That is interesting. I didn't think I would come to Richard Dawkin's website and find out that the UK is actually far more religious than I had thought it was. Thanks!

Why? Did you think this website would deliberately post an article that falsified the level of religiosity of the UK or something? Or are you surprised that you found something that actually conformed to what you want reality to be like?

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 02:31:09 UTC | #594233