Census 2011: Mind Your Own - responses to initial questions
We have been told that this census will be the last, so there’s no danger of the religion question becoming compulsory.
This is a surprisingly widespread misconception, apparently stemming from an announcement by Jeremy Hunt MP. The National Census is NOT being abolished: merely the inefficient 10-yearly form which is invariably out of date within a year. Government data gathering in the future will be electronic and more frequent. Unless a stand is taken now, this question (and others yet to be conceived) will become mandatory.
There is a danger that if we don't answer this question, it will affect the percentage of Christians and be used to ignore us even more.
At the last census, 72% of the nation professed Christian adherence: it did nothing to halt Parliament’s assault on our liberties. Whether we respond to this question or not, the percentage will change, and so it should. The 2001 figure was manifestly distorted: box-ticking one’s religion is concerned with self-classification which will be as subjective in 2011 as it was in 2001. The basic premise of the whole religion question is flawed.
By not ticking ‘Christian’ you give the impression of being ashamed of your faith. You are denying your baptismal vows and denying Jesus. We need to stand up and be counted.
This is NOT about being ashamed (good grief - imagine, His Grace ashamed!): it is about protesting a limit to the intrusion of the database state. Only by telling the Government to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS can that protest be made. Leaving the question blank is passive assent to being asked.
If Christians - even those only 'culturally Christian' - do not declare themselves, the Government will believe we are a purely secular society (except for Muslims), and act accordingly.
This is like comparing penis size: whoever has the majority is perceived somehow to be ‘winning’. It is a ludicrous assertion. Again, His Grace points out that the secularisation of the UK continues apace: a Christian (overwhelming) majority has not halted it, as the Pope noted in his recent visit. And there is no rationale at all to the Government concluding that by telling them to MIND YOUR OWN that the nation is ‘purely secular’.
I chose not to answer in 2001: that was my protest.
You and 4 million others, who have simply been discounted. Non-response is not a protest: it constitutes passive assent to being asked, and communicates indifference.
I answered ‘Jedi’ in 2001.
And it was all very amusing (and has provided His Grace a plethora of blog posts since). But despite now outnumbering those who profess adherence to Judaism and Sikhism, the Jedi have been completely ignored: there is no ‘Jedi’ tick-box. The campaign was a typically British eccentricity which will doubtless become illegal (on pain of fines) in a few decades. Answering ‘Jedi’ is not a protest: it is tacit support of the state’s right to enquire into personal religious belief.
Loss of privacy doesn’t equate to loss of liberty. Those motivated to conceal invariably have something to hide. If virtually everything is known about everybody the power of information becomes diminished.
It's called targeting. There was a time when it used as the basis for sales and marketing: now it is not infrequently used for social engineering and propaganda purposes. It is outrageous that the state presumes to question people on their sexuality, such that old people in a retirement home are obliged to answer such a question in order that the management can tick the ‘diversity’ box and secure a local authority grant. This began as an option, but compulsion has crept in. It is unacceptable that those who ‘prefer not to say’ are made to think they have ‘something to hide’: and that those gays who prefer to keep the information private tick ‘heterosexual’ for fear of suspicion. This is not data gathering: it is conscience coercion.
Am I right in thinking that refusing to answer the census leads to a fine or imprisonment?
Only the mandatory ones. This question remains optional, but unless a stand is made soon, it will - as sure as night follows day - become mandatory with punitive state action for non-compliance. By ticking ‘Other’ and filling in ‘MIND YOUR OWN’, you are not breaking the law.
I personally find it quite interesting to see the results, and find out just how many people profess to believe in God, etc.
Except that the statistics are inaccurate. Religion is not the same as ethnicity: culture is not creed. As others have said, accurate data is important. But with more than 4 million having left the question blank in 2001, the statistics were skewed from the outset, such that any political decision taken upon the basis of the findings was flawed.
At first glance, it's a census-related privacy campaign. On second, I read it as anti-secularist.
Not remotely. In fact, the BHA were praised at the campaign launch for wanting the data to be more accurate. But their own Census Campaign acknowledges that the question remains flawed, and so the integrity of the resulting data will be insecure.
Further questions and responses will be added to this post as they arise:
The question is optional and says so in big letters - I think people should answer honestly to give best comparison from last census. Encouraging mass distortion of the data will create more problems.
The optionality has been dealt with: as with questions about sexuality, it is not likely to remain so. But when in 2001 more than 4 million exercised their right not to respond, the validity of the data was already questionable. Since the 2011 question is itself different from that of 2001, there is no meaningful comparison to be made: it is apples and potatos, vulnerable to crass and simplistic (and triumphalistic) interpretation. And it is disingenuous to accuse His Grace of encouraging mass distortion and creating more problems: the problem is with the question itself and the unacceptable level of the state's intrusion.
This really is about privacy. Since the Government has not defined religion (and cannot distinguish it from a ‘philosophy of life’), and His Grace cannot fathom how they can presume to make windows into the souls of men, the question ought not to be asked: it creates more heat than light.
And where is this question leading?
In April 1933, the Hitler regime began a census of all Germans, partly aimed at identifying Jews. In 1937, the Nazi regime ordered another nationwide census. This one was decisive for Hitler’s war preparations and for the Jews it was the final and decisive identification step.
The way things are going in the UK and the EU, it is clear that census data is being used to categorise, profile, apportion funds and limit our freedoms. It needs ‘nipping in the bud’, before it is too late.
Unlike the BHA campaign, there is no pledge to take, no fund-raising appeal, and no ulterior motive. So 'like' the Facebook page and spread the word that this is an opportunity (in the last 10-yearly census) to protest the limits of state intrusion.
Today's invasion of privacy will be tomorrow's loss of liberty. Our freedoms of conscience, religion and association are too precious to entrust to a government database.