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Media Release – Flawed Census question on Religion

New research: Census flawed by 50 percent, on religious belief    11.7.21

On 10th August all Australians will be asked to fill out the census. One question will still get is wrong — and badly skew the data on religious belief inAustralia!

Inflating census data on religious belief serves only to allow governments to fund unjustified billions to church institutions, at the expense of secular health and education,” says Brian Morris, of Plain Reason.

New academic research has come from RSA Fellow, Neil Francis, and his 152-page Religiosity In Australia.  It confirms what secular organisations have known for decades — that the census question on religion is fatally flawed.”

“At the 2016 census, 60 percent of Australians indicated an affiliation with a religious denomination. This is widely assumed a reliable headline indication of Australians’ religiosity. It most certainly is not.”

“Bias in the census religion question leads to overstatement of affiliation on weak family historical grounds, rather than actual religious belief and practice.”

Headed “Religious Affiliation”, and followed by the question “What is the person’s religion?”, influences citizens to think every person has one — even if it’s a long forgotten family faith,” Mr Morris says.

“ABS — the Australian Bureau of Statistics — makes it clear, over many years, they are not interested in the actual ‘beliefs’ of citizens. Their focus is wholly on ‘affiliation’, even if it goes back to childhood.”

“What this does, effectively, is to double the impression of national religious belief. And this ideally fits the agenda of organised religion — allowing them to claim extra billions to run their untaxed private religious businesses in health, private schools and aged care.”

“Instead of a low 30 percent for ‘No Religion’ at census 2016, the report states that when asked whether they actually ‘belonged’ to a religion, 62 percent said they did not.”

“When expressly asked if they ‘belong’ to their religious organisation, a majority — 62 percent of Australians –say they don’t, including 24 percent Catholics, 44 percent of Anglicans.”

So why has ABS rejected every call to change their ‘leading’ question on religion?

“Secular organisations have, for decades, made hundreds of submissions to ABS to replace the biased question on religion.  They seem fixated on ‘affiliation’ rather than actual current beliefs.”

“The 2016 census cost $470 million. With that kind of money the public expect accurate results — data which fairly shows to whom governments give taxpayer funds. Religion deprives many secular programs.”

“There’s an historical symbiosis between government and religion which has never ended well.  ABS adds to the problem by including ATHEISM as an ‘alternative religion’ in this census.  How bizarre is that?”

Plain Reason: promoting science, reason and critical thinking