Sunday, March 27, 2011

Census Day 2011: "Mind Your Own *%$#@!! Business"

There really is only one answer to the Census 2011 religion question:

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 belief
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
But 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?

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.

But ‘religion’?

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

“...*%$#@!! BUSINESS”

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.


Blogger Anoneumouse said...

Does the Census refer to the “sentient, physical, human being” or the “Legal Fiction/Person” as identified by Birth Certificates, Passports, and other legal documents which have no legal bearing on the sentient, physical, human being? Does the Office for National Statistics expect the sentient human being to complete this Census on behalf of the human being themselves or on behalf of the various paper documents, known as the Legal Fiction/Person, which they represent?

27 March 2011 at 11:54  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

I filled mine in on-line this morning. Very easy that way. 'Fraid despite His Grace's eloquent campaign I checked No Religion.

27 March 2011 at 12:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you wrote your last article on the States invasive census a number of websites have offered advice on how to fill this in, including if you are a "Conscientious Objector" to Lockheed Martins involvement in the data collection.

One interesting snippet I have learnt from the census help-line is that you are not legally obliged to sign it.

27 March 2011 at 12:03  
Blogger maggi said...

fascinated that His Grace, as chief advisor to royalty, supports the privatisation of religion...

27 March 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Revd Maggi,

It would be quite wrong (and mischievous) to infer any such thing.

27 March 2011 at 12:46  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

The incursions of the state into our private affairs are becoming a cause of considerable concern.

State intrusion is an inevitable consequence of a diverse society. This article quotes Helmut Schmidt, the former German Chancellor: ‘If one asks, where in the world are multicultural societies functioning, he quickly comes to the conclusion, that multiculturalism can only exist peacefully within strong authoritarian states.’

Glad of the opportunity to associate myself with Christianity’s immense contribution to civilization, I ticked ‘Christian’.

27 March 2011 at 14:14  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Our freedoms of conscience, religion and association are too precious to entrust to a government database.
Your Grace, one asks "Freedoms"? The question limits the problem to one concept, though; and those who misgovern us understand none of the words in your sentence.

Your Grace's comments can strike to the souls of others. Earthly dominions now aspire to powers that will coccoon us in networks from cradle to grave (at least). Forget metamorphosis - for anyone.

Unless we take Your Grace's advice sooner, rather than later.

27 March 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

I don't believe I am an OCCUPIER,
therefore the census does not apply to I.

We believe we are OCCUPIED therefore the census does not apply to We.

27 March 2011 at 15:27  
Anonymous KWC said...

I fear that I have omitted to reply to a significant number of questions feeling that they are none of their business and that if they really wanted, they could consult other records (HMRC et al) to get the required information. Besides, why should I disclose information to them that is of no value to them other than snooping?
While I consider myself a law-biding citizen - apart from a speeding fine - I do feel that State has gone too far this time.

27 March 2011 at 22:09  
Anonymous Pageantmaster said...

Did His Grace give his date of birth I wonder?

28 March 2011 at 01:16  
Anonymous Oswin said...

I'm with Johnny Rottenborough on this, and ticked accordingly.

28 March 2011 at 01:24  
OpenID dexec said...

Geoffrey Chaucer's tales?

28 March 2011 at 02:10  
Anonymous Simon said...

It is not as if the information gathered is particularly confidential.

Census Form :

“Your personal information is protected by law. Census information is kept confidential for 100 years. … (sgd.) Jil Matheson, National Statistician”

Report of a Privacy Impact Assessment conducted by the Office for National Statistics
in relation to the 2011 Census England and Wales (November 2009),

12.6 Keeping census records confidential
12.6.1 Other than for the purposes of conducting the census and in the circumstances set out in section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, it is unlawful for any member or employee of the UK Statistic Authority (which includes any member or employee of ONS) or any person who has received personal information directly or indirectly from the Authority, to disclosure such information. The provisions of the 2007 Act replace the more general provisions protecting the confidentiality of personal census information in England and Wales that were set out in Section 8 of the Census Act 1920 as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991.

s. 39 The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (Confidentiality of personal information)
(1) Subject to this section, personal information held by the Board in relation to the exercise of any of its functions must not be disclosed by—
(a) any member or employee of the Board,
(b) a member of any committee of the Board, or
(c) any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from the Board.
(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure which—
(a) is required or permitted by any enactment,
(b) is required by a Community obligation,
(c) is necessary for the purpose of enabling or assisting the Board to exercise any of its functions,
(d) has already lawfully been made available to the public,
(e) is made in pursuance of an order of a court,
(f) is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings (whether or not in the United Kingdom),
(g) is made, in the interests of national security, to an Intelligence Service,
(h) is made with the consent of the person to whom it relates, or
(i) is made to an approved researcher.

A fuller and better commentary is on

28 March 2011 at 12:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I put "Christian" on the census form. If that means means I now run the risk of being carted off by men in white coats in 3-5 years, while "His Grace" is not troubled: so be it. I will be following in His footsteps, who went into the Temple and shouted about who He was.

I think the advice about declaration of being a Christian is "When tempted to hide, declare, and when tempted to declare, hide it". Anyway, I knew about 'His Grace's' campaign and ignored it.

28 March 2011 at 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would encourage all Englishmen to put 'Christian'. Let the authorities take note that we English have a common bond that can be traced through centuries of social evolution. One day may they fear the English. I first read of this proposal from an atheist.
May the authorities one day fear we English.
On my census form I have indicated, on every page, my opposition to the EU. I shall add a page to theirs on which will be written the Coronation Oath. I shall then state that Edward Heath was guilty of treason when he signed the ECA of 1972 and that subsequent PMs are complicit.
Given the relationship that we now have with the EU I shall say that I object most strongly to the information on my census form being passed to a foreign power.

29 March 2011 at 15:38  
Anonymous len said...

I put Christian , a follower of Christ .

I will not deny His name before my fellow men as he will not deny my name before the Father.

29 March 2011 at 23:54  

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