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Media Release – ABS changes question on Religion

Congratulations to ABS — changing Census Question 22 on Religion.  10.8.14

“Congratulations must go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for responding so decisively to an overwhelming public call for change on the question of religion, following the 2011 National Census,” said Brian Morris, Director of Plain Reason.

“It will rectify a long-overdue statistical error and show Australia to be a far stronger secular country than imagined.”

“In last Tuesday’s ‘on-line trial’ to collect census data digitally — in readiness for the 2016 National Census — ABS have conceded a dramatic change in the format of Question 22 on ‘Religious Affiliation’.”

“This on-line trial put the ‘No Religion’ option as the first box to be marked, rather than the last box for attention — as it was in the 2011 census — and now allows citizens to consider this serious question more carefully,” Morris said.

“In 2011 the ‘No Religion’ option was buried below the long list of Christian and ‘Other Religion’ options — which essentially encouraged citizens to tick the religion of their childhood — even though they may never have practiced that religion.”

He pointed to concerns in the secular (non-religious) community that in 2011 there was an exaggerated high of 61.1% recorded for the Christian population, while the ‘No Religion’ response was deemed to be just 22.3%.

“Based on our own research these figures are grossly distorted, and the secular community responded to the ABS call for submissions to change the question, and its format, for the 2016 census.”

“Together with the Atheism Foundation of Australia (AFA), the South Australian secular movement ran a campaign and submitted changes on the ‘Religious Affiliation’ question for 2016.” Morris stated.

He said, of 915 submissions to the ABS, following the 2011 census, a total of 444*** related to the question on religion.
*** Scroll to Religion Affiliations:

“There’s little doubt that Australia will record close to 50% ‘No Religion’ in 2016 if that question remains as first option. This is what happened in the 2013 New Zealand census — they recorded 42% when the ‘No Religion’ option was placed first.”

“The distorted ‘Christian’ figure of 61.1% in 2011, and prior, has given religious institutions enormous leverage with all governments for billions of dollars in grants and tax breaks, at the expense of secular education and charities,” Morris said.