The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) isn't at all surprised by the complaints of Christian group Family Voice Australia, who are urging that the 2016 Census "Religion" question returns the "No religion" option to last place on the answer list.
Through our highly successful Not religious now? Mark "No religion" campaign, the AFA was instrumental in the 2011 Census results for that question returning the highest-ever "No religion" percentage – 22.3% – see: www.censusnoreligion.org
The AFA also provided our submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2013 regarding changing the question, and consulted extensively with them over a long period of time. When taken together with contributions from other skeptic, humanist and rationalist groups, this resulted in the question being changed.
"The AFA has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the "No religion" demographic for a number of years, with our "Mark No Religion" campaign. This paved the way for subsequent efforts by ourselves and other like-minded groups to work with the ABS in reducing the inherent bias towards religion" said AFA President Michael Boyd.
"The many religious options are still available, and it is ridiculous to think that a devoted follower will suddenly mark "No religion" purely because it's the first option, and they can't be bothered finding their own religion on the list. So really, what are Family Voice Australia worried about?"
"If it's that people might suddenly realise that "No religion" is a valid answer, and that it now applies to them – that highlights exactly why this overdue change was needed. The non-religious demographic in Australia is no longer just a "None of the above" minority, and the religious clearly don't like that."
For the 2016 Census, the AFA will again be reminding people "Not religious now? Mark No Religion", to promote awareness of the Census change and to ensure that Australia's growing non-religious demographic is seen and heard.
Kylie Sturgess interviewed Michael Boyd for RTRFM on the AFA's key role in this important Census change, and the interview can be heard here.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595
Phone: (02) 8007 4503
Email: [email protected]