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

Opinion: Census must change to stop “Spiritual Pork-barrellling”

Published by Australian Independent Media Network 7.8.21

Authoritarian religion — throughout history — has had a seamless simpatico relationship with authoritarian governments. Think middle-ages, the Conquistadors, and Catholic pogroms against heretics. Over recent decades it’s become a triumvirate of conservative clerics, politicians and media hacks — trying to stamp out rationalism!

This census is a classic example of how fundamentalist religion, politics and media have come together.

Of course, they were driven to tightly re-group to fight off the dastardly ‘secularists’ who dared to challenge dishonesty in the perpetual census question on religion. It’s been hopelessly biased since the first census in 1911.

But what does it matter if the data is a bit skewed?  More on that shortly, but first, what’s going on?

Secular groups across the country have commissioned reputable independent national polls, and voluminous academic research, to amass indisputable “evidence” that ABS data on religion is fatally flawed. It matters simply because there are serious consequences.

But in similar vein to fervent anti-Vaxxers, QAnon conspiracists, and Young-Earth evangelicals — “evidence” and “facts” are completely irrelevant to conservative MPs, fundamentalist Christians, and pseudo-journalists.

Take this incredible interview on with Peta Credlin and Michael Sukkar MP, billed as the “minister for the census”. It’s loaded with hate and bile and panic — that Barbarians are hammering at the Pearly Gates!

The secular Census Campaign has been a measured and rational effort to present the facts that this religious question is collecting tainted data, which grants unfair billions to religious businesses. More on that shortly. But:

Peta Credlin: “Why are they (secularists) so scared of Christianity?” and “…it diminishes our values, it puts the family unit under threat if you diminish faith.” Really, how so?

Minister Sukkar: “…It’s an intolerant hatred of people of faith and of faith itself.” and “I think it’s quite bizarre that people would be motivated to try and influence how other people respond to their Census but I suspect that it’s an underlying intolerance and indeed a hatred for people of faith.”

“… pressure from relatively strange, unusual groups trying to tell you how to answer your Census should be ignored … these sorts of unusual groups(are) trying to pressure you or cajole you into answering a Census in any way other than what is truthful.

Oh, the irony — they want their truth. But they can’t handle the real “truth”.  Tones here of Jack Nicholson, from the film, ‘A Few Good Men’ (54 seconds). It’s the unvarnished literal truth that’s difficult for the indoctrinated.

And there’s more of this bizarre right-wing “fake news” here, and here, and here, and here. As you’d expect, too, social media is alive with anti-secular trolls who think the sky will fall in if the Christian vote declines (again!).

Which it will!  But only marginally! And that’s because, like all past census questions on religion, it’s knowingly flawed.  Nine out of ten psychologists will tell you that — the tenth is probably an evangelist.

All reference below will confirm the census question, “What is the person’s religion?” is biased, as it implicitly assumes every citizen has one. Links in the next paragraph show the government knows the data is skewed.

The 2016 census result showed 30 percent No Religion, and 60 percent Religion. That’s hopelessly wrong. ABS and government know that! They have no qualms collecting “childhood” faiths from people who have long ago abandoned a family religion. They don’t practice it, and feel religion is not important to them. ABS here and here.

The “truth” is that 78 percent of Australians want religion to be separated from politics. The July Essential Poll, commission by the National Secular Lobby shows the current public view of the ‘No Religion vs Religion’ split. It’s NOT the 2016 result of 30/60 — but in fact 52/41. A two-thirds rise in No Religion and a one-third drop in Religion. (No incongruity with the differential in ‘thirds’, you have to do the maths.)

Keep in mind that around 10 percent are “other religions”, so Christianity right now is around just 30 percent! And all the evidence comes from the 152-page Religiosity in Australia report. And when all respondents were asked if they “belonged” to a religion, 62 percent said NO.” Read the Executive Summary (better, all 152 pages).

That report shows that for all religions the ‘truly’ committed people of faith total only around 15 percent! Again, for the speed-readers — only 15 percent committed to a religion! These are known colloquially as ‘Devouts’ (10 percent) and the ‘Regulars’, also at a minuscule 5 percent.

So, in truth, Christians who have a full-on devout faith — mostly Pentecostals (like the PM, Scott Morrison) and other evangelicals — number just 10 percent. A small base, with too much power to sway politicians. And that’s telling too. Academic Dr Andy Marks shows only 7.5 percent of MPs claim “No Religion”. Why is it now blocked?

So, the earlier question was, “why is all this important?”.

Well, it’s more that important — it’s critical. The article “Corrupted census data on religion ‘gifts’ billions to Churches” says it all — backed up by hard evidence!

Think about this logically. Conservative prime ministers from Robert Menzies, John Howard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and now Scott Morrison — not to mention the ALP — have contributed greatly to the promotion of religion. They have all ignored the fact that religiosity in Australia, since 1911, has been in steady decline!

Be clear! This is not an attack on people having a faith; it’s about religious political influence and dishonesty.

Undeniably, religious political influence has steadily increased. In 2014 a full 40 percent of kids attended private religious schools, up from near zero when PM Menzies first started to fund Catholic schools.  In 2016 Catholic school funding was $12 billion, and public schools struggle for functional funding. It’s now education welfare!

Add to this the additional billions that the government ‘gifts’ to a variety or private religious businesses in hospitals, aged care and other public services — not including genuine charities! Concurrently, vital services in public schools and higher education, public hospitals, health and support, are basically welfare programs!

Just like the ‘sports rort’ and the ‘car parks’ rort before the last federal election, the multi-billion dollars funding of private religious businesses — all of which pay no tax — amounts to ‘spiritual pork-barrelling’.

Peta Credlin, other right wing media, conservative politicians, and religious hierarchies are absolutely wrong about secular Australians being “anti-religion.” People can believe exactly what they wish — even if it’s alien invasion, a flat Earth, or homeopathy.

But please, don’t weaponise your religion to rort billions of taxpayer funds, based on shonky census data — which starves vital funds from a vast array of public education and other services. It’s dishonest and un-Australian.

The secular majority — now armed with indisputable evidence of the ongoing rort, caused by a ‘loaded’ religious question — will launch its new campaign in 2022, when ABS call for submissions for Census 2026. The question must FINALLY be changed, to end this spiritual pork-barrel rort.

Plain Reason: promoting science, reason and critical thinking.