Census Day 2011: "Mind Your Own *%$#@!! Business"
“ Mind your own *%$#@!! business ”
The incursions of the state into our private affairs are becoming a cause of considerable concern. A person’s religious beliefs are his or her personal domain. While the Census 2011 religion question remains optional, it is not likely to do so: the more the state gets to know, the more it appears to assume a divine right to know.
Today's invasion of privacy will be tomorrow's loss of liberty.
And so the ‘Mind Your Own’ campaign was officially launched in January upon His Grace’s blog.
There was even a Facebook Group dedicated to the cause (it has attracted 354 supporters). Big Brother Watch endorsed the campaign in February.
When the state decided in 2001 to begin prying into the religious affiliations of Her Majesty’s subjects, eyebrows were raised, questions asked, conspiracies spread and bloggers did what bloggers do.
But the people heard the cry of Minch Yoda.
For the Jedi to achieve what they did was really quite remarkable: to inspire the official registration of a greater number of adherents than those who expressed affiliation to or identification with either Judaism or Sikhism was laudable.
And so it was established, if a little yodically, that the Jedi population of the United Kingdom numbers 390,127.
But this campaign was a typically benign and uniquely British response to the sort of skirmish by the state which in France would bring the protesting hordes onto the streets baying for blood.
The Jedi campaign was glorious repartee.
But it wasn’t revolution.
It didn’t effect change.
And so the state has come back this year with even more probing ‘religion’ questions.
Or, rather, more options to tick.
But it is profoundly flawed, as His Grace has previously explained.
According to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 'everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion'. It may be further observed:
1. Article 9 includes the freedom of belief and the freedom to manifest beliefBut who determines religious triviliality? Who judges a religion's coherence and intelligibility? Why is the belief in a carpenter who gets resurrected from the dead not absurd?
2. A belief does not have to be a religious conviction
3. A belief can be an absence of belief
4. A belief (i) must not be trivial (ii) must be consistent with basic standards of human dignity or integrity and (iii) must be coherent, in the sense of being intelligible and capable of being understood
5. It is hard to predict whether an act is a manifestation of belief or not
6. A religious obligation is likely to be a manifestation of belief
7. A religious motivation is not likely to be a manifestation of belief
8. An interference with an Article 9 right can be justified
What is coherent about human infallibility or intelligible about angels dictating books to illiterate warlords? What is capable of being understood about a man with an elephant's head, or a book which is revered as a living guru?
Is there any inconsistency between human dignity, Yoda and the Force?
His Grace is fed up to the back teeth of the database state; of having to classify himself as ‘married/civil partnership’ or designate himself as an ‘EU citizen’ instead of British. And forms which enquire into ethnicity, disability and sexuality, all in the interests of ‘diversity’, are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Data gathering has evolved into a beast of omniscience. It has developed a plethora of permutations in labyrinthine layers of infinitely nuanced complexity.
And the state has not proved sufficiently competent to safeguard that information.
Categorising religious adherence is simply a step too far: one’s religious beliefs are no business of the state.
Not least because HM Government have never defined ‘religion’.
And the British Humanist Association have got this completely wrong: by attempting to elicit more accurate data (a laudable and honest pursuit), they risk perpetuating the inaccuracy for a further decade.
Ticking a box does not make you a Christian.
But neither does going to church every Sunday.
The ‘cultural’ affiliation – ‘believing without belonging’ – remains strong in the UK: it is not the same as ‘No Religion’.
Of course, one should not confuse ethnicity with religion, or culture with creed.
But it is straightforward to tick ‘male’ or ‘female’, for these are clearly defined.
You can fill in ‘age’, ‘geographical location’ and count the number of bedrooms in your house. These are facts.
How can the state presume to make windows into men’s souls?
They helpfully list a few Christian denominations to guide us.
But what of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Christadelphians? Unitarians? Mormons?
Does one need to be Trinitarian to be a Christian?
Does one need to believe in the perfect revelation and final prophethood of Mohammed to be a Muslim?
And what about the Buddhists?
Why is that a relgion and not a philosophy of life?
Can one hold two faiths simultaneously? May one be both Buddhist and Shinto?
And why are the courts saying that Environmentalism is a religion?
Where is that box on the census form?
Enough is enough.
Until the sate defines religion, it is not possible to tick ‘No religion’.
The BHA are simply trying to skew the data assist in their own secularising campaign.
It is as disingenuous, unreliable and fraudulent as the 72 per cent figure of Christian allegiance which has been bandied about since the 2001 census.
And they are using it as a front to raise funds for their cause.
They even absurdly assert that the only reason there are Church of England bishops in the House of Lords is because of the 2001 census.
It is time to stop this nonsense.
Today, when you complete your 2011 Census form, to the religion question, please respond ‘Other’
And then write in: "MIND YOUR OWN…"
Unfortunately the form does not appear to leave sufficient space for
Perhaps this is a blessing, for expletives and expressions of frustration only demean the integrity of the campaign.
Remember, today's invasion of privacy will be tomorrow's loss of liberty.
Also remember that the National Census is NOT being abolished: merely the inefficient 10-yearly form which is 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.
Our freedoms of conscience, religion and association are too precious to entrust to a government database.