Naomi Phillips on the BHA’s Census Campaign
Naomi Phillips, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, explains some of the machinations which have led to the flawed question on religion cropping up again in the next year’s census, and how The Census Campaign is working for better representation of the non-religious.
Despite the ONS itself admitting that the Census question on religion, ‘What is your religion?’, is a leading question designed to capture the weakest possible religious affiliation (making it a ‘reasonable proxy’ for an ethnicity question), it still recommended the question’s inclusion in 2011. Yet it is quite unfit for uses such as resource allocation and the monitoring of discrimination.
Although it might seem strange, part of the reason for using a question that measures the weakest possible affiliation (including a cultural connection) was in order to ‘capture’ the large proportion of non-religious people who may consider that they are Jewish or Sikh by ethnicity (as seen in law since the Race Relations Act) but not by religion.
Not ‘losing’ the secular Jewish and Sikh populations in statistics might help government to meet its duties in terms of monitoring race equality. But ‘losing’ millions of non-religious people by encouraging them to tick the ‘Christian’ box (even if they have never been to a church or don’t believe in a god) has serious consequences, not least for equality issues.
Moreover, it is the greatly inflated figure for ‘Christian’ that has a particularly negative impact for non-religious people, as it is the figure that is most influential and most frequently cited by those seeking to retain privileges, such as reserved seats for Church of England bishops in the House of Lords, an increase in Christian ‘faith’ schools and a privileged dialogue between government and the churches.
Under the banner, ‘If you’re not religious, for God’s sake say so!’, the Census Campaign seeks to raise awareness of the dangers and real damage that can be done by the non-religious population not being accurately recorded by the Census.
Full article: http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/if-youre-not-religious-for-gods-sake-say-so/
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Naomi Phillips on the BHA’s Census Campaign,