Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Census 2011 - the religion question

The questionnaire for the 2011 Census has been released.

No option for the Jedi.

Appalling discrimination, considering the 2001 census established that they were 390,127 practising Jedi in the UK - a number surpassing both Jews (267,000) and Sikhs (336,000).

Perhaps HM Government is subscribing to EU directives/conventions on the matter, by which we are bound and shackled through the Human Rights Act 1998. It was Tony Blair who incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, and, despite his pre-election protestations, David Cameron now shows no sign of repealing it.

According to Article 9 of the Convention, 'everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion'.

As His Grace's loyal and erudite communicant Mr D. Singh has previously elucidated:

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

Those criteria are a far cry from the 16th century when Elizabeth I refused to 'make windows into men's souls' and thereby signalled the end of State interference into religious belief in England.

Perhaps the ruling élite consider Jedi to be too 'trivial' for a census designation. Yet 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 frivolous?

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?

And this Census question evidences further inconsistencies:

Why is it that only Christianity has qualifying denominational clarification (note how 'Church of England' is distinct from 'Protestant')?

Why are (for example) Jews and Muslims not equally treated in this regard, with reference to Sunni, Suffi and Shi'a Islam, or, for the Jews, clarification for inter alia Hasidic, Haredi, Liberal or Reform adherents?

What qualifies as a 'Christian denomination'? Do they all need to subscribe to trinitarian belief? Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Christian denomination? Is Unitarianism? Are you a Christian because you tick this box?

What makes Buddhism a religion and not a philosophy of life?

Does 'Other' now possibly include Environmentalism? According to a recent judgement, the belief in man-made climate change is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations.

In 2001 the religion question was voluntary, and 4,011,000 people chose not answer it (7.7 per cent of the population).

It remains voluntary for 2011.

But for how long thereafter?

37 Comments:

Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

I would imagine there could be a campaign to get people to write Jedi in the other religion box thus showing the obvious appalling discrimination.

12 October 2010 12:09  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

You state:

‘It remains voluntary for 2011.’

You ask:

‘But for how long thereafter?’

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Yes – with the caveat under Article 8 sub-article 2: how long?

The other, neglected, issues are: why aren’t beliefs such as Atheism and Skepticism included in the question?

After all, would not State policy-makers wish to know how many people there are that might support a slide into totalitarianism?

12 October 2010 12:34  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

I've just had a look at the 2011 form - I'm not filling all those personal bits of information in there! I don't trust the state will be competent enough to safeguard that information - there's no way that granularity of information would be secure for long - it's too valuable. The information in there is an insurance or marketeers dream - that would be used to cross reference all sorts of other databases.

The form states "...you could face a fine if you don't participate or if you supply false information".

I'm thinking of ways not to participate - anyone have any ideas?

Or how much would the fine be?

12 October 2010 12:45  
Anonymous Indigo said...

The questionnaire for the 2011 Census has been released.

There are a squillion scripts running on that site; after allowing all of them except Facebook through my Firefox script filter, the pages are still blank.

I'll wait for the version without advertisements and compulsory link to Facebook.

12 October 2010 12:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your questions are to deep for the people creating the questionaire.

12 October 2010 13:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,
'Are you a Christian because you tick this box?'
There's little to add beyond that observation. Except to say that having ticked said box, perhaps our passports could all be helpfully stamped with a red letter 'C' or 'J'. It would make life so much simpler.

12 October 2010 13:05  
Blogger DaveF said...

It's very handy for the State to ask members of the public to signify their beliefs on a census - thereby making it so much easier to identify individual believers for future persecution.
King David carried out a census on the people of Israel - this was against the will of the Almighty. I grow increasingly suspicious of the State - and its motives..

12 October 2010 13:16  
Anonymous Michael said...

'Those criteria are a far cry from the 16th century when Elizabeth I refused to 'make windows into men's souls' and thereby signalled the end of State interference into religious belief in England'

Funniest comment I've ever read on this blog.

12 October 2010 13:26  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Is it really correct to lump all branches of christianity into the same group?

Seems like this would give an unfair statistical advantage to all members of any christian sect to lay claim to their high numbers. They don't have all of the same beliefs so why have them all in the one box. Unless the reason is to give a statistical advantage of course.

12 October 2010 13:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall that the 2001 census asked for your ethnic origin. I am English, and live in England. I was offered (in boxes) the choice of Scottish, Welsh, Irish, White European, and about a dozen Afro-Asian-Caribbean groups.

But not English. All I was offered was 'White British'. I had suspected that the Labour Govt. was trying to eliminate the English - this was the final proof.

12 October 2010 13:44  
Anonymous len said...

Apparently in the 2001 census there were in the region of 170 different religions listed.
They cannot all be true so which one do you choose?(if any.)

Christianity(born again variety) is the only 'religion'which has a Saviour ordained by God, all other religions are a treadmill of works in which you have to be 'good enough' or 'enlightened enough'to succeed.(Any religion which relies on the efforts of man to succeed is doomed to failure right from the start!)

Ticking a box certainly does not make one a Christian, neither does going to Church, reading the Bible, infant Baptism,being born in a Christian Country or being a 'good person'won`t do it either.
Jesus Christ said" You must be born again" to Nicodemus(and to us)because religion certainly is not enough.

12 October 2010 13:44  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

A belief can be an absence of belief
Pure dada, (what we have come to expect from Mr Singh)!

Why is the belief in a carpenter who gets resurrected from the dead not frivolous?
It is or perhaps absurd would be a better description.

According to a recent judgement, the belief in man-made climate change is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations.
Man made climate change is accepted by virtually every reputable scientist. The issue is the proportion that we are responsible for, if it is 80% then clearly we should do something about it, if it is 5% then we probably shouldn’t bother. In the context of the census question “Belief” means believing without evidence (a prerequisite of all religions).

What makes Buddhism a religion and not a philosophy of life?
Here I agree, it is not.

12 October 2010 13:53  
Anonymous "Dr." Epictetus said...

Perhaps it is time to found a new religion, whose fundamental beliefs include that:
- no law is valid unless made by a democratic body, such as the UK parliament but not the EU;
- everyone has the right to freedom of speech
- political leaders who lie about the justification or causes of war should be stripped of all their assets and imprisoned for life;
- it is evil to pay more than 10% tax or more than 20 in time of war;
- everyone has the right to freedom of speech;
- it is sacrilege to fill in a census form;
- everyone has a right to use imperial measures instead of metric should they so choose;
- everyone has a right to a tax credit at their top marginal rate of tax against their income for time wasted by ineffective or unnecessary laws and government regulation;
- health and safety officers and other bureaucrats must be personally responsible for any reckless disregard of how they discharge their duties.

None of the above are any more bizarre than the doctrine of the Trinity (Newton thought that was nonsense and stemmed from an error in translation) nor the doctrine of consubstantiality, to pick but two, and nor are they as harsh as some of the 39 Articles. In short, they could reasonably and easily be the basis of a religion.

With this new religion in place we could tell state sponsored busy bodies to get lost and never bother us again, because "It's against my religion."

This would force the absurd system by which the EU and UK is now governed to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions.


"'Dr.' Epictetus"

12 October 2010 14:42  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Doc Ep wrote:
None of the above are [sic] any more bizarre than the doctrine of the Trinity (Newton thought that was nonsense and stemmed from an error in translation) nor the doctrine of consubstantiality...

1: But none of them is in any way bizarre. They are all common sense.

2: Did you mean consubsantiation?

3: Did you really mean transubstantiation?

4: Perhaps, if we are talking about the EU, we should mention transubsidiarity.

12 October 2010 15:25  
Anonymous Hereward said...

"1: But none of them is in any way bizarre. They are all common sense.
"

See Fowler: 'It is a mistake to suppose that the pronoun is singular only and must at all costs be followed by singular verbs etc.; the OED explicitly states that plural construction is commoner.'

12 October 2010 15:42  
Anonymous JayBee said...

The 2011 census might be the last. There are proposals to get more accurate and frequent updates using public and private databases. This seems to me to be a move towards real-time surveillance of the populace.

The last Census was flawed according to this link:
http://www.localgov.co.uk/index.cfm?method=news.detail&id=90301

Critics claim the Census data, collected every ten years, can date very quickly in highly transient areas. In addition, several local authorities challenged the figures of the last Census, over fears large swathes of population had been missed.


So here we have the stuff of nightmares - unnumbered swathes of unknown religious persuasion on the loose. The Jedi were accounted for and there is nothing remotely resembling a swathe in the pews of the Church of England. Perhaps they were all Environmentalists or harmless Druids.

Or perhaps not.

Maybe they are merely ghosts on the electoral roll who only materialise to mail their postal votes.

12 October 2010 15:52  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I'm more interested in how the question on racial origin will be framed (I assume that there will be one)
Normally, I am only allowed on surveys to describe myself as white, whilst many other groups whom I thought were racially identical (and represent a small part of our population), are given a wide choice of options.

Fortunately, I have just discovered from the 1911 census that my grandfather was of Swiss origin, so in the future, I will be declaring my ethnic origin as Anglo-Swiss, which should upset the system!

12 October 2010 15:58  
Anonymous Dr. Epictetus, MA, BEd, NuLab said...

Anabaptist

Thank you for pointing out my mistake - I was as a child resistant to education, but despite that my school managed to do a reasonable job on me, for which I am eternally grateful. The remaining shortcomings are of course entirely my own responsibility. I feel you make an excellent suggestion to put subsidiarity in the creed as an evil!

And Hereward, thank you for correcting my preconception. I had until you corrected me assumed that what Anabaptist suggests was the only correct grammatical form in such a case, even if I frequently stray from it like a lost but not subsidized sheep.

""Dr." Epictetus."

12 October 2010 16:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look luvvy, we don't do religion.

12 October 2010 16:32  
Blogger Archdruid Eileen said...

This question seems to assume you can only hold one religion. Why can you not hold two - for example Buddhism and Shinto? This census is therefore clearly discriminatory against, among others,people of Japanese ethnic origin.
Your Grace notes that Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians may or may not include themselves as Christians (although Jehovah's Witnesses would presumably identify themselves as "real" Christians as opposed to the others). Likewise Mormons and Christadelphians would seem to fall down these holes.

12 October 2010 16:47  
Anonymous "Dr." Epictetus said...

Archdruid Eileen

An excellent point, and following your point further, the question may even be illegal under Health and Safety legislation as well as various other laws including the Human Rights Act. Suppose that I decide to become a Moslem and convert to that religion. The census form would have me declare this. Suppose that subsequently I decide to recant and revert to my prior religion. To recant from Islam is in the eyes of many members of that religion a sin punishable by summary execution, i.e. there would be a significant threat to my life, not just if I were to travel abroad to a Muslim country but also were I to keep myself in the UK. It is against the health and safety laws and perhaps the Human Rights Act to put someone in danger. Against this the government might argue that the census data will be kept secret, but the government's track record on keeping secret data secret speaks for itself -- it is no protection at all.
Now as there is a mortal threat as described above to Moslems then to exempt Moslems from the requirement but to require adherents of other religions to fill in this section of the questionnaire is religious discrimination.
The people who design this sort of questionnaire are such bozos. But as it is written, God moves in a mysterious way.

"Epictetus PhD (hon. c.)"

12 October 2010 17:01  
Anonymous Epictetus PhD (hon. c.) said...

"Dr." Epictetus

12 October 2010 17:02  
Anonymous Epictetus PhD (hon. c.) said...

"Dr." Epictetus

12 October 2010 17:02  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Hereward
You instructed me to "See Fowler: 'It is a mistake to suppose that the pronoun is singular only and must at all costs be followed by singular verbs etc.; the OED explicitly states that plural construction is commoner.'"

Not sure if that's what Fowler was talking about, but if it was, then nuts to him: none is a contraction of not one and is therefore singular. You wouldn't say, 'not one are.' You would say, 'not one is.' Raspberries to the OED as well (and to the OECD, while we're at it).

12 October 2010 19:17  
Anonymous Sam Vega said...

Hi len,

I bet you have been expecting me to respond to your statement

"Any religion which relies on the efforts of man to succeed is doomed to failure right from the start!"

Just respectfully wondering why you think this.

12 October 2010 20:44  
Blogger Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

BWOGBG,

I shouldn't worry about it too much if I were you. I filled in the 2001 census question about what my main professional duties were with "Killing Civil Service Vermin". They don't seem to have included that in the published results, nor has my religion "Methuselahism" made much of an impression on the statistics.

My guess is they ignore the results and publish what they damn well please.

12 October 2010 21:16  
Blogger Dave said...

Graham Davis wrote "Man made climate change is accepted by virtually every reputable scientist. "

Perhaps he missed this
http://thegwpf.org/ipcc-news/1670-hal-lewis-my-resignation-from-the-american-physical-society.html

Hal Lewis resigned from the Americal Physical Society after 67 years of membership. His reasons?
"(AGW)is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist."

That clear enough Mr Davis?

12 October 2010 21:27  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Anabaptist @19.17: Seconded. euros have infiltrated the OED, I say.

12 October 2010 22:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be inclined to sabotage my form by refusing to tick ambiguous boxes and writing verbose and pedantic explanations for said refusal with equally v and p suggestions for improvement of said form.

More fun might be had by pretending to be illiterate and incapable of filling out the form except that an army of do-gooders would, no doubt, descend.

I might just lose my form.

Jay

13 October 2010 01:20  
Anonymous len said...

Sam Vega,
Religion can do many things but the one thing it cannot do is impart life.Religion cannot restore man`s fallen condition, man cannot save himself!

When Adam rebelled against God he died spiritually instantly but he didn`t die physically for many years.God(respecting Adams free will) withdrew His Spirit from Adam.The attributes of the Spirit of God are (Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.")

The Human spirit with the spirit of God absent becomes receptive to the spirit of' this world' the spirit of the Prince of the Power of the Air.The attributes of this spirit are only too prevalent in the world today! Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.
There is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum whatever Atheists think!.
Religion cannot restore man`s fallen nature only God (through His Holy Spirit) can restore man and reclaim him from his bondage to satan.
Once again this is a matter of choice if you decide to reject God He will respect your decision.

13 October 2010 01:27  
Blogger Not a sheep said...

If the followers of Islam should be split between Sunni, Suffi and Shi'a then Jews should be split between Ashkenazi and Sephardi before any other sub-classification.

13 October 2010 07:42  
Blogger D. Singh said...

"Any religion which relies on the efforts of man to succeed is doomed to failure right from the start!"

Just respectfully wondering why you think this.

Let us take the example of the Muslim. He believes by doing certain actions instructed by the Prophet of the Moon he will be in good standing with his conception of God.

But if someone like Prof. Stephen Hawking converted to Islam, he clearly would not be able to perform many of the actions that are required by Islam.

Sikhs grow their hair long. They believe that by their hair God will pull them up to heaven.

What then becomes of the bald Sikh?

Judaeo-Christians believe that Jesus took the penalty for all our sins (wrong-doing) upon himself.

We pray the Lord’s prayer: ‘… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us…’

The Lord assures us that he forgives us (after we have confessed our wrong-doing, pleaded for forgiveness (and go onto turn away from our wrong-doing)). But what of the victims of our wrong-doing?

Doesn’t he consult my victim before he forgives me?

Even in today’s criminal courts the judge listens to the ‘victim’s’ ‘Victim Impact Statement’.

Doesn’t he consult my victim before he forgives me?

I think not.

Before my fist connected with mine enemy’s jaw; it struck Jesus’s face first: ‘… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us…’

13 October 2010 08:01  
Anonymous Gerard Tibercross said...

The European Convention on Human Rights is not something of European devising thrust upon us, but a British initiative to inhibit the rise of dictatorships which, Italy and germany clearly demonstrated, constitutions fail to achieve. It was drafted by mainly British lawyers as lawyers from occupied Europe broadly fell into 2 categories, tainted by collaboration, or dead.
The Church of England has its own category because it is at once part of the catholic church (catholick at Evensong), albeit regarded as schismatic from a Roman viewpoint, yet tolerates protestants, just so long as they are not too protestant.

13 October 2010 10:42  
Anonymous Epictetus said...

Mr. Tibercross,

What is the point you are making here? It seems that you see the involvement of British lawyers as giving this law some moral legitimacy in Britain today. Yes, it is the case that British lawyers were heavily involved in drafting the Human Rights Convention, and its intentions were good ones, for the reasons you give. However, neither of those factors are relevant to its constitutional position in English law (nor Scots), nor to its desirability in the circumstances of today. In some areas the Convention has been a good if at times burdensome thing. The problem is that in many other areas the Convention takes us backwards, and in others it imposes a particular doctrine on Britain without the sanction of due process in our Parliament. The Convention is a poor way to improve our society and is fundamentally alien to and incompatible with our constitution.

"Epictetus"

14 October 2010 13:15  
Anonymous Gerard Tibercross said...

Dr Epictetus

ECHR contains nothing which is not entirely consistent with the protection of those fundamental rights which we regard as entrenched in the law throughout the UK. Unfortunately, those rights are nothing like as protected as we imagine. HRA has been effective in preventing governments from further eroding those rights. I practise in public law, which is primarily concerned with protecting people from government excess. European law has made a valuable contribution to that, in particular the concept of proportionality as an element of reasonableness, or more strictly disproportionality as an element of unreasonableness.

An unexpected by product of HRA is the development of an English law of privacy. In the US a law of privacy developed out of the case of Prince Albert v Strange, which here turned on copyright and breach of confidentiality. While the smuttier Sunday redtops may be alarmed at this development, it is worth remembering that even the most undeserving – supermodels, F1 bosses, and footballers – have human rights too.

HRA will play a part in a case I am dealing with at the moment, in which the lawyers for the diocese are arguing that the Anglican clergy have no human rights, because ECHR and HRA don't apply to the C of E, and have quite seriously cited a textbook from 1895 in support of their case. If HRA serves to drag the C of E into this century then that will be achievement enough.

Gerard Tibercross

15 October 2010 13:06  
Anonymous Anne Palmer said...

International census resources. Most, but not all, countries conduct regular censuses of their populations. For many countries this is a statutory requirement, sometimes at the supranational level (e.g. the European Union). In 1995 the United Nations even passed a resolution calling on all its member countries to compile census data by 2004. However, a census is only possible with the general consent of the population and in some countries this is no longer present. For example, Germany has not taken a full census since the census planned for 1983 had to be postponed until 1987 because of public concern over the proposed use of census returns to update local population registers. The Netherlands have not had a census since 1971, following a high level of refusal in 1971, and poor test returns in 1979. Both these and a number of other countries (including Denmark) have turned to alternative data sources, particularly population and housing registers and sample surveys, as the source of population statistics.
Census.ac.uk does not provide access to these international resources and cannot vouch for the quality or appropriateness of those listed below, except to say that it is believed these are some of the most significant, especially for modern census data. Etc.
Scotland Census Form
http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files2/the-census/scotlands-census-2011-specimen-questionnaire.pdf

Official Journal of the European Union on population and Housing Census
http://www.census.ac.uk/guides/Qf.aspx

27 February 2011 12:12  
Anonymous Barry said...

Forgive me if this has been discussed, but I wish to record my faith as a semi-practicsing Jedi (I will the door to open but it doesn't always happen). Is this possible without persecution from the government?

8 March 2011 23:14  

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