The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) has launched a public information campaign encouraging all those who do not have a religion or no longer practise a religion to mark the ‘No Religion’ box on Census night, Sunday 3rd April. Our short video explains why this is important.
The most recent census in April 2016 showed a consistent trend charting the exponential rise in those claiming no religion. In the 1991 census, “No Religion” represented 2% of the population and this figure rose threefold to 6% in Census 2011 and made a big jump in Census 2016 to just over 10%. In fact, the 2016 census revealed that those with no religion had almost doubled to 468,400, a massive 73.4% increase making “No religion” the second largest category behind Roman Catholics. One in ten Irish citizens now has “no religion” which is indeed reflective of how Ireland is becoming a more secular society.
However, the Humanist Association claim that this figure would have been even higher but for the biased nature of the Census question that assumed a religious affiliation by asking ‘What is your religion’? The question appeared to assume a default position that the Census form filler had a religion. It was because of this leading question that, following Census 2016, the Humanist Association engaged in consultations with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with a view to updating the question on religion for Census 2022.
Following a CSO pilot survey, the Census Advisory Group decided to change the wording and the new questions will now read: “What is your religion, if any?” with “No Religion” being the first option on the checklist. Given the increase in citizens identifying as having no religion in the 2016 Census, the rewording of the religion question should now more accurately reflect the number of non-religious people in Ireland.
Our CEO, Jillian Brennan, was invited to talk about the census campaign on Newstalk Breakfast on Friday 25th February. Later in the day, a Newstalk reporter asked people on the street about their opinion. Have a listen to the 11 minute podcast: HumanismIreland/census-no-religion/