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Media Release: 2016 Census – Only one error corrected: 27.6.17

Only one Census error corrected – but we are ‘Religion-Neutral’

“Three key benefits (1) will flow from Australia being confirmed as ’religion-neutral’ – now that Census statistics correctly show ‘No Religion’ to be the largest social demographic,” says director of Plain Reason, Brian Morris.

Released today – by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – the August 9th Census confirms ‘No Religion’ is first choice for 30.1 percent of the public; with Catholics at 22.6 percent, Anglicans 13.3 percent, and Islam at just 2.6 percent.

“But also added to the 30.1 percent for No Religion should be the 20 percent of ‘lapsed Christians’.

“Purely through force of habit, they continue to list a belief given to them as a child – even though they have never practiced that religion in adult life.  And Christian parents continue to record their own beliefs for their children.

“By including all data, Australia is now more than 50 percent secular.

“Australia has been one of the few western countries to still bury ‘No Religion’ as the last option.  This anomaly has  existed since 1901, giving Churches leverage to claim huge tax breaks, and $12b in grants to religious schools in 2016.

“But the full No Religion figure will not be seen until ABS follows other countries by asking; “Does the person practice a religion; yes or no?” — rather than the current; “What is the person’s religion?”.  That assumes we all have one!

Equitable funding for public education and public health must now follow.  Billions in excess funding to Churches has come only from inflated figures of Religious Affiliation; with a budget crisis, it’s time to tax Church businesses.”

Mr Morris said another benefit of Australia being religion-neutral relates to public fear over religious extremism.  “Secular neutrality is a far less divisive principle than Christianity, which claims spiritual superiority over Islam.”

He said this is clearly evident in Scandinavian countries, where their strongly secular communities have far less violence, provoked by religious differences.

“Secularism is ‘neutral’ to all religions – it does not favour any faith over another – and it does not inflame tensions between Sunni or Shiite, or Protestant against Catholic ; it simply opposes all hostility based on religious belief.

“Australia upholds the United Nations charter for ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’ – the full definition that also includes ‘non-belief’.  Secular citizens simply seek to defuse all religious rhetoric that inflames social division.”

Mr Morris said Australians have far more in common with “secular Nordic countries” which are more stable – both socially and politically – and where social and ethical values are founded primarily on “religious neutrality”.

(1)   The 3 benefits of Australia  being ‘secular’:
1.  Census finally corrects the historical bias favouring Christian privilege.
Fairer funding for public schools and public health, and taxing religion.
Secularism far more effective in defusing divisive religious rhetoric.

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