Thursday, July 10, 2008

The 2011 census: Is it 14% or 65% for the ‘No Religion’?

Jul 09, 2008 21:35:10 GMT

The BHA are lobbying the Office of National Statistics to change the religion and belief question in the 2011 census as we believe that the 2001 question led to deeply flawed results (see below for discussion of this). The Office of National Statistics has written to the BHA telling them that they have done some testing of the question and that their results show that the 2001 question should be used again. BHA believe that this is a highly irresponsible decision, in light of how the 2001 data has been misused and the part it has played in advancing an unrepresentative agenda of religion-based work in so many areas. In order to strengthen our case, evidence is needed to show the difficulties created by the 2001 census question.

Therefore, the BHA would be very grateful if you could look out for information in your locality which justifies ‘faith-based’ practices by public bodies based on census results. Examples of this may include making funding decisions using this data or changes in service delivery; it may also include any use of the data which is unqualified e.g. in official documents which may say ‘70% of local residents are Christian’ rather than ‘70% of local residents responded “Christian” when asked “What is your religion” in the 2001 census’.

If you have any pertinent examples, please let them know so that they can build up evidence showing the misuse of the questionable 2001 data. All information should be sent to Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer,

The 2011 census

The objective is to ensure that the question or questions about religion in the 2011 census give an accurate picture of religious affiliation in the UK. The single question in the 2001 census used in England and Wales gave a far higher figure for ‘Christian’ than all other surveys: 71.74% in England and 71.90% in Wales, while the Scottish figures, where respondents were asked about the religion they were brought up in, as well as their current religion, showed significantly lower religious affiliation: 65.08%, in spite of far higher figures for Church attendance for example in Scotland. The corresponding figures for ‘no religion’ were: England 14.60%, Wales 18.63% and Scotland 27.55%. The figures were probably also distorted by the fact that the question appeared immediately after a series of questions on ethnicity, which may well have encouraged people to respond more on the basis of culture than actual beliefs or religious affiliation.

Other surveys tend to give around 30 – 40% non-religious, rising to 60 – 65% for young people.

The census figures are, of course, used throughout Government as the basis for planning, resource allocation, etc, so it really is very important to make sure that the figures they produce next time are a true reflection of the situation in the UK.

No comments:

Post a Comment