In the March 19th edition of the South London Press, one of the SELHuG committee, Hester Brown, had a letter published urging non-religious readers to tick ‘no religion’ in the recent census, as part of our efforts to raise awareness around this question. (See our recent post If you’re not religious say so!)
You can see scans of the paper below and the text of Hester’s letter underneath.
In this year’s Census, to be filled out by 21 March, one of the questions is “What is your religion?” For those of us who are not religious but feel culturally Christian, Muslim etc, it can be tempting to tick that. Or to put Pagan or even Jedi in the ‘other’ box.
As a Humanist, I will be ticking the ‘No religion’ box and I ask everyone who is not a believer to do the same. It matters because policy makers use the Census results to justify faith schools which lead to less inclusive communities; public services delivered by faith groups; a massive amount of programmes on the BBC for religious people but almost nothing for people with non-religious worldviews; religious representation in Parliament and compulsory Christian worship in state schools, to name a few.
Half the British population identify as non-religious in all surveys, including the respected British Social Attitudes survey, except the Census. There it drops to 25% because of the leading question.
My local group, South East London Humanists, is joining with Humanists UK in their “If You’re Not Religious, Say So!” campaign. Non-religious people have worldviews and ethics, equal under UK law to religious beliefs, yet the government and policy makers pretend not to see them. You have to ask why. Ticking the ‘No religion’ box will make it harder to avoid the case for a fairer society.