Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Census Questions Are Not a Joke

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Census Questions Are Not a Joke

Article excerpt

Byline: GREG WILDIE

ACCORDING to The Age, whilst launching the 2011 census, Federal Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten asked people to keep the jokes to a minimum.

In 2006, 55,000 Australians marked their religion as Jedi.

aThat's not a recognised religion in Australia,a Mr Shorten told reporters. aYou hear all sorts of discussion in the social media about calling yourself a pastaferian, which is a worshipper of pasta. That is funny, but we would rather you fill in the census correctly.a

So here we have an admission that unless your religion proclaims belief in one of the officially recognised imaginary friends in the sky, you do not count and will be treated as a joke.

Sorry Billy Boy, but that is straight out discrimination.

If people believe that religion is nothing more than a cruel joke that is their religious position. It deserves the same respect as any one elses.

Just because the census form is structurally biased to favour the major religious prejudices of our nation and conceived by people with a vested interest in protecting those prejudices, it does not mean that other positions should be ignored.

In truth most Australians do not practice any of the major religions. Although baptised or subjected to whatever induction process took their parents' fancy they avoid churches, synagogues and mosques except for the purpose of weddings and funerals.

They proclaim the religion of their birth purely because it is structurally easier than trying to record another option.

About 20% of Australians describe themselves as having no religion and 12% think it is no ones business but their own. In a fair and representative system, no religion and mind your own business should be positioned as two of the four top choices on the census form.

Only Catholicism and Anglicanism get close for numbers and refusal to answer was as popular as the Anglicans at the last census.

This is still a misrepresentation. There are no lapsed atheists who actually practice a religion whilst pretending to the atheism of their birth, whereas there are as many as three quarters of those who claim their birth religion who have very little religion at all.

A genuine census would show the greater part of our population is lapsed, probably deist if they believe at all and frequently either agnostic or atheist.

The census question is demonstrably designed to mislead. The example lists Humanism as a possible religion. Humanism is generally a philosophical position. Humanists don't worship humans. They can be religious or not, depending on their personal philosophical bent.

Secular humanism is essentially atheistic in that it requires a rejection of the existence of supernatural powers.

Religious humanism concentrates on humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that centre on human needs, interests, and abilities. …

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