Brian Whiteside (Irish Times) Think carefully before answering census question on religion

The census looms and included in it we have Question 12, which deals with religion. “What is your religion?” it asks boldly, assuming everyone has one. It lists the options: Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Islam, Presbyterian, Orthodox; it then gives a space, two rows of boxes, for “Other, write in your religion.” Then, under these two rows of boxes, comes option 7: “No religion.”

One would have thought a more sensible way of framing the question might have been to start by asking: “Do you have a religion?” This could have been followed by a number of options for those marking the Yes box whereas those opting for No would go straight to the next question. But this suggestion, made by the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) following an invitation by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for suggestions regarding possible improvements in the census, was rejected on the basis it would make historical comparisons difficult. This must certainly mean not many suggestions would be adopted.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Religion & Culture

2 comments on “Brian Whiteside (Irish Times) Think carefully before answering census question on religion

  1. Br. Michael says:

    Actually a better way of doing this would be to ask people to identify their worldviews. Asking whether you have no religion is the wrong way to ask the question. A person with “no religion” actually does have one, but just not one of the listed ones. To ask about worldviews gets more accurate results. Of course a lot of people have never given their worldview a thought and don’t know what they believe.

  2. Catholic Mom says:

    Actually, an even better way would be to say “do you identify with a formal religious organization?” Many people would not want to say they have “no religion” yet do not identify with the ones listed. This way, you would actually only get those people who identify with a formal religious organization rather than those who say “well…I’m a religious person even if I don’t belong to any church and haven’t been to church since I was 10. Let’s see…my mom used to take me to the Presbyterian church when I was a kid, so I’ll check that.”