In an article released this morning on TotallyJewish.com, the Board of Deputies of British Jews urged those Jews to tick the ‘Jewish’ box in the forthcoming census so as to ‘ensure the appropriate provision of funding for the diverse needs of [the Jewish] community’.
Warning against an under-representation of British Jews, Daniel Vulkan from the Board of Deputies claimed that ‘the answers [from the census religion question] will help both national and local government in planning the provision of faith-specific services … If the census shows that a certain area has a lot of young Jewish couples, this may indicate the need for a new Jewish school.’
This is, of course, regrettably true: census data has, over the last decade, been misused to justify a wide range of policy decisions and resource allocations; and there is no reason to think things will be different in the next few years. ‘Misused’ rather than ‘used’ because the census data about religion is only informative with respect to the (often weak) cultural affiliation of individuals: not on how they feel about religious schools or other religious services.
However, the link between census data and these misuses are not often cited as explicitly as in this article. It seems that more people are coming to understand the grave importance of this question under the presumption that the data will be misused as frequently over the next decade as it was over the last.