A LOBBY GROUP which campaigns for a “rational, ethical and secular society free from superstition” has launched three new initiatives, asking people not to state their religion as ‘Roman Catholic’ in this year’s Census if they do not genuinely believe in it.
Atheist Ireland’s campaign is encouraging people to give honest answers in the Census, to be carried out on April 10 this year, when they are asked about their religious beliefs.
The three Be Honest campaigns are targeted at individual segments of society who the body believes may be likely to give an inaccurate declaration on their census reforms.
The ‘Be Honest to Godless‘ campaign is aimed at those who are atheists; ‘Be Honest to God‘ targets people raised as Catholics and who still believe in a God but are “no longer truly a Catholic”; while ‘Be Honest about Relation‘ hopes to convince people who have no faith whatsoever.
Writing on Atheist Ireland’s blog yesterday as the campaigns were launched, chairman Michael Nugent said the results of previous censuses had inflated the number of Catholics in the country, “because many people tick their childhood religion out of habit”.
“The last census showed 3.7 million Roman Catholics – that’s about 87% of the population, and 186,000 people with no religion – that’s about 4% of the population. We believe the true figure for Roman Catholics is much lower”, Nugent explained.
Nugent also cites claims from the Archdiocese of Dublin which says it calculates the Catholic population of its area solely on data sourced from the Central Statistics Office, which compiles the census every four years.
Atheist Ireland hopes that by giving what it believes to be a more accurate picture of the religious landscape in Ireland, the state will be less likely to “discriminate against people of other religions and nonreligious people” when providing services like education or healthcare.