Jedi? Heavy Metaller? Troll? Why we should present a united front under ‘No Religion’

In the last census, over 390 000 people claimed they belong to the Jedi religion: about 13 000 more than those who self-identified as Jewish.

Rock out and identify yourself as belonging to the 'Heavy Metal' religion?

As the 2011 census arrives on our doorsteps, many different ‘religions’ are vying for the attention of the sceptical: a brief scroll through Facebook groups reveals 35 000 fans of ‘Heavy Metal’ as the religion of choice; however you might feel more at home with ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ (514 fans) or ‘Pokemon Master’ (444 fans) as your religion.

We strongly urge all those who are not religious to resist the temptation of giving a jovial response, and to tick ‘No Religion’ on the census.  It is true that some ‘religions’ which are obviously tongue-in-cheek are filed under ‘No Religion’ by the Office of National Statistics – but that is not guaranteed.  Even more important, there are further bodies who use the census data, and who have a great deal to gain by distorting the nature of the data.  Unless we present a united front under ‘No religion’, it will always be possible for religious organizations to disaggregate the data to their advantage.

Consider, for example, a recent article by the Christian Institute: a socially conservative Christian group.  They used the 2001 census data as follows:

According to the last census, for every one atheist/humanist in England and Wales there were 2,037 people who identified themselves as Christian.

The number of atheists and humanists in the 2001 Census in England and Wales was only 18,654, while those who said they were Christian in England and Wales numbered 38 million – 71 per cent of the population.

While this is factually correct, it fails to account for the other 8,577,834 who self-identified as not having a religion.  The data, when presented truthfully, show the non-religious to be the second biggest group of respondents after Christians: rather than 1:2,037 (as quoted above), the ratio of non-religious to Christians measured in the last census is 1:4.8. Of course, for this year’s census, we expect that ratio to be more like 1:1!

We want to make sure that this sort of cherry picking  of census data is much harder to do.  If all those who are not religious tick ‘No Religion’, we will send out a clear, unified message to policy makers that cannot be misconstrued or distorted.  And this really does matter – remember that over the last decade, the census data statistics on religion have been used to justify an increase in the number of state maintained faith schools, to keep the unelected Bishops in the House of Lords, and to justify pouring state funds into religious organisations.

As faith plays an ever increasing role in public services and government, it is vital that the non-religious stand up together to be counted in this month’s census.

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9 Responses to Jedi? Heavy Metaller? Troll? Why we should present a united front under ‘No Religion’

  1. Gordon Ridley says:

    Sorry about the editing errors – here is what I tried to say:

    There are some thoughtful responses on your thread. Though not a member of the BHA, I support its ideals and I wish to contribute to the discussion.

    I suspect I am in agreement with many correspondents in that I very much believe that we should “foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values”. To progress this, we should encourage future census writers to explore our belief systems in more detail, in order to produce more accurate and meaningful statistics. Don’t we all know that, by definition, all religious people wish us to abandon our intelligence and common sense – consequently they should be expected to distort everything they read and say, so that they can advance and promote their unjustifiable and illogical views.

    Living in Glasgow as I do, one has to be careful in answering religious questions. Thus, the story goes, an applicant, when asked by a local football club interview panel whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant, answered that actually he was an Atheist. The response was “Yes, son, but are you a Catholic Atheist or a Protestant Atheist?” Which is, of course, as logical as many other religious questions and answers!

    In the census I answered (electronically) “non-religious”, because that is what I am. To claim, for example, that I am an “Atheist” would be to say I believe there is no god. This then falls into the same category as if I were to state I am not a “Flat-earthist” and not a “Moon’s a green-cheesist”. While these are both true, I do not wish to strengthen such people’s beliefs by saying I don’t believe in the object of their belief, because that would further dignify it with my non-belief. Similarly, I don’t wish to say I am an atheist because that suggests to religious people that there is a god but that I just do not believe in “it/her/him”.

    Let’s continue to press for freedom, honesty, clarity, intelligence and reason to prevail over ignorance, oppression, delusion and, dogma both in everyday issues and in the more life-and-death questions (such as football!).

    • J says:

      Gordon – any ideas on how we get the people in government to remember that we pay their salaries and that they are therefore servants of the realm…? J

      Lou – Islamaphobia-? My arse! Maybe you should stop reading the gutter-press – ? Until we have a complete reorganisation of the parliamentary system in this country and the government ministers, who after all are our servants, have any thought or even the leats bit of consideration for what we want or say – they will always consider religious groups, it’s in their interest to continue to do this. I reiterate I am non-religious BUT this country isstill (just about) a “Christian country” (Religion = guidance for the wise and rules for fools) and woe betide the native English people (with all of of our heritage, morals and principles) should it ever become an Islamic one… Of course people of the Muslim faith, and all other faiths are welcome here, – so long as they all understand and recognise that this is still a Christian country. J

  2. Gordon Ridley says:

    There are some thoughtful responses on your thread. Though not a member of the BHA, I support its ideals and I wish to contribute to the discussion.

    I suspect I am in agreement with many correspondents in that I very much believe that we should “foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values”. To progress this, we should encourage future census writers to explore our belief systems in more detail, in order to produce more accurate and meaningful statistics. Don’t we all know that, by definition, all religious people wish us to abandon our intelligence and common sense – consequently they should be expected to distort everything they read and say, so that they can advance and promote their unjustifiable and illogical views.

    Living in Glasgow as I do, one has to be careful in answering religious questions. Thus, the story goes, an applicant, when asked by a local football club interview panel whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant, answered that actually he was an Atheist. The response was “Yes, son, but are you a Catholic Atheist or a Protestant Atheist?” Which is, of course, as logical as many other religious questions and answers!

    In the census I answered (electronically) “non-religious”, because that is what I am. To claim, for example, that I am an “Atheist” would be to say I believe there is no god. This then falls into the same category as if I were to state I am not a “Flat-earthist” and not a “Moon’s a green-cheesist”. While these are both true, I do not wish to wish to strengthen such people’s beliefs by saying I don’t believe in the object of their belief, because that would further dignify it with my non-belief. Similarly, I don’t wish to say I am an atheist because that suggests to religious people that there is a god but that I just do not to believe in “it/her/him”.

    Let’s continue to press for freedom, honesty, clarity, intelligence and reason to prevail over ignorance, oppression, delusion and, dogma both in everyday issues and in the more life-and-death questions (such as football!).

  3. lou says:

    J, you are teetering precariously on the brink of Islamophobia.

    I personally find it abhorrent that ANY religion has an influence in government policy. Resultantly, I shall be putting Jedi. It’s a statement: religion should matter as little as race. By highlighting these issues you only draw attention to them and teach our children that they are special. Positive discrimination merely opens the way for negative discrimination.

  4. J says:

    For the time being, England is still a Christian country and whilst I don’t align myself with any particular religion I wouldn’t want to see that change. If we are to believe what we are told, whilst all other religions are on the decline the Muslim religion, globally and here in the UK is on the increase. Surely if people who would otherwise tick Christian as their religion now tick No Religion, this could mean that the largest percentage for a religion in this country could be Muslim and they would then have even more say here than they do now-? I would suggested that all people who want to see England remain “a Christian country” tick Christian, regardless of whether they are religious or not. (BTW if you complete your paper census form, sign it and post it – you are potentially leaving yourself wide open to identity fraud.)

  5. mark Foot says:

    Just throw the whole thing in the bin or shred it. It has been given to a usa arms company to gather the info, under usa law there companies are not allowed to withold information request from there government…………….

  6. Michael Contreras says:

    Oh I’m sorry, did it make you guys mad that we were jedi trollers?

  7. mark russell says:

    a religion is merely a device to express faith.i have faith in the future,am i a futurist??????!!!!!!!if i had faith in myself some would call me cocky and arrogant.hey,i could be a cockyist!!!!!!!!!
    it’s not a case of not being spirtual,or indeed a belief or not in god,you can be either spiritual and/or love god,and not be part of any religion.a christian is someone who believes in christ,(the clue being in CHRISTian),so to believe in god isn’t the same thing at all,and doesn’t have to involve a religion of any kind.so you can believe in god and be non religious!