Promoting science, reason & critical thinking with a rational A-theist perspective to advance the secular political agenda

Media Release — 2016 Census: ABS changes Question on Religion: 26.8.15

Religious Bias to be Resolved in 2016 Census

“A courageous decision to change the ‘Religious Affiliation’ question in next year’s Census will finally reflect the true number of ‘non-religious’ Australians,” says Brian Morris, director of the rationalist organisation Plain Reason.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) must be applauded for finally making the ‘No Religion’ box the first option, rather than the last; as it has been for decades.  It is likely to double the non-religion figure of 22.3%, from the 2011 Census, and reduce the inflated 61.1% Christian majority to under 50% — already foreshadowed by Morgan Research.”

See ABS website

“There’re three reasons why the ABS figure must be corrected. Churches wrongly claimed a Christian mandate when the ‘No Religion’ option was conveniently buried below the box where some like to list Jedi and Trekkie as their religion.”

Morris said the inflated figures for Christianity, “still listed as 61.1% at the 2011 Census,” gave Churches substantial leverage to influence state and federal governments and expand their demands — for more religion in schools, more chaplains,  and increased grants and tax breaks to religious institutions, which already exceed $20 billion each year!

“There is no issue whatsoever with religion as a ‘personal and private faith’ — but an increasingly militant and politicised Christian lobby has manipulated the errant ABS figures for its own ends, and to the broad detriment of society.”

“A recent article by Dr Simon Longstaff, Director of the Sydney Ethics Centre, pleaded for Australia to become fully secular — also the theme of a new book, Sacred to Secular, which profiles the benefits of advanced secular nations.”

“There’s a growing call to stop the rise of evangelism in schools and instead to teach secular ethics that show kids, with practical examples, how to deal with today’s moral and ethical dilemmas — lessons that will help them in adult life.”

“But the first step is to defuse politicised religion — the church leaders and their Christian lobbyists — and to recognise that Australia’s future lies in becoming fully secular.  The 2016 Census will help chisel that fact in stone,” Morris said.

Brian Morris: Plain Reason.


More that 400 submissions were made to the ABS following the 2011 Census to alter the ‘Religious Affiliation’ question — which misrepresented Christianity as being the religion for 61.1% of the population. The submissions focused on two key points:

1.  Regrettably, the question itself has still not been changed to the suggested option: “Does the person practice a religion?” The question remains the same — “What is the person’s religion” — which is a loaded question; it wrongly assumes that everyone has a religion. This automatically skews the answers and indirectly encourages citizens to nominate their “family” religion, even though they may never go to church and they don’t believe in God.

2.  The good news is that “No Religion” has now been moved to the top of the option boxes. For decades it has been placed below the general box “Other (please specify)”. This box has traditionally been used for some people to add ‘religions’ such as Jedi, Trekkie, Flying Spaghetti Monster, and many more.

It can be seen that this considerably devalued the “No Religion” score, resulting in an inflated combined score for Christianity.

That exaggerated figure of 61.1% has provided enormous opportunities to Churches to lobby governments on a broad raft of financial benefits and validate calls for more private religious schools and for religious education and chaplains in public schools.

All aspects of this are detailed in the book ‘Sacred to Secular’, together with the case for Australia to achieve the numerous benefits in becoming a fully secular nation — as profiled in the experiences of the Scandinavian countries that are 80% secular.

Plain Reason:  promoting science, reason, logic and critical thinking.