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Media Release: “Spiritual pork-barrelling” skews Census Question on Religion

Brian Morris interview with ABC Sunshine Coast 5.8.21    See next post:

Point 1:  This week’s Essential Poll proves the census is flawed.
Point 2:  ABS admit collecting ‘childhood’ beliefs inflates the data.
Point 3:  There’s no ABS “continuity” argument to keep the religious question

“A national Essential Poll — just released — shows new evidence that national census data on the religious question is badly flawed — and with serious consequences,” says Brian Morris, director of Plain Reason.

“It’s costing taxpayers billions of dollars in unjustified grants to private religious businesses and we need to consider this when completing the census — if you don’t have genuine faith, mark “No Religion.”

“It’s ‘spiritual pork-barrelling’, using inflated figures of religious belief that gift billions in wasted funds to private religious schools and other enterprises — at the expense of public education and health services.

Point 1:  Two surveys by Essential Poll — over recent weeks — show that:

The question on “Religious Affiliation” is biased — it assumes every citizen has one!  What this does is to inflate religious belief in Australia to skew funding for religious schools, and deprive public education!

The Poll compared the biased census 2016 question with one that’s unbiased

(a)  “What is your religion?” (2016 Census)
“No Religion”  30%     a chosen religion  60%

(b)  “Do you currently have a religion?”
“No Religion”  52%    a chosen religion  43%

Result:  No Religion up by +22%   Religion down by -17%

The 2 Essential Polls (full survey) ran over 4 weeks, to 1.8.21.

This 2021 Census should also show: 52% No Religion and 43% for a chosen Religion — but it will not. This census will again use the misleading question.

Mr Morris said a ‘true’ census of 52% no religion, against 43% religious should dramatically change government grants — to reduce over-funding to wealthy religious schools, and channel urgent funds into cash strapped public education and health. They have effectively been slashed to be welfare services!

Point 2:  ABS website concedes that ‘lapsed’ faiths inflate the data.

“ABS — Aust. Bureau of Statistics — know ‘lapsed Christians,’ and others, will choose a childhood faith they no longer follow. ABS seemingly reflects an LNP/ALP policy — driven by the churches — to gift taxpayer funds for more private religious education. Flawed data makes that possible,” Morris said.

ABS says under “Discussion of Issues”:  The question, “… is not designed to measure the level of adherence to beliefs or participation in practices common to the nominated religious affiliation.

The ABS website clearly states in par 3: “Information gathered is used by religious organisations and government agencies to plan service delivery and encompass religious practices within community services, such as education, hospitals and aged care facilities.”

“How many people actually know that public educations is being slowly privatised — a claim made by the Australian Education Union against then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull?”, Mr Morris stated.

He said the census seems to acquiesce — whether intentionally or not — to the political and philosophical intentions of both major parties, and also of the formal religious establishment. The secular majority — 78% of the public — want politics and religion separated, to halt public services being outsourced to religion.

“The question MUST change — at least to add “if any” to the current biased question. As in, “What is the person’s religion, if any.” ABS say they must retain ‘continuity’.  Not so!” Mr Morris says.

Point 3:  There is no ABS argument for the “continuity” of census questions.

In an SMH article, the ABS said it will not make changes to the religious question, “because it would affect the continuity of the data” — a statement which is clearly at odds with the facts, Mr Morris said.

“The record shows that ABS has, in fact, amended the question on Religious Affiliation four times over the past 50 years — in 1971, 1986, 1991 and again in 2016.”

“That blows the ABS claim out of the water; it is disingenuous and clearly aimed to maintain the status quo — which perpetuates the myth that religious belief tops 60%, and over-funding private religious schools should be a priority for a conservative government.”

“There’s a plethora of government rorts to win votes at elections, over many years — and most recently with the ‘sports rort’ and the ‘car-parks rort’.”

“With that track record — it’s not quite so outrageous to think that the funding of private religious enterprises will help conservative governments to win the religious vote at each election.”

So the challenging ‘secular’ question remains — for both the government and ABS — is the current biased census question on religion simply spiritual pork-barrelling?

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