Census21 No Religion Campaign Rejects Fake News and Fearmongering
The Census No Religion campaign is aware of a particularly hateful and misleading message circulating on social media, by email and SMS text message. The message suggests that non-religious people should incorrectly record that they are religious or face the consequences of Australia becoming a Muslim country.
This is an example of the worst kind of zealotry based on inaccurate facts and unfounded fears.
A typical example states “For the first time, there is an option to choose ‘No Religion’”. This is false. The ‘No Religion’ option on the census was introduced in 1971.
Mike Dove, spokesperson for the Census: No Religion campaign, points out that, “As per 2016 census data Muslims represent less than 3% of Australia’s population compared with around 52% for Christians and 30% recording ‘No Religion’.
“As a secular country, Australia has nothing to fear from any individual religious group. If the people spreading this information were truly concerned about the impact of other people’s religious views, they would fight to maintain the separation of religion and state and keep all religions out of our laws.”
Australians have everything to gain from accurate data in the census, including the religious question. Census data guides government and businesses in making important decisions about education, health, and aged care, and helps plan local services for individuals, families, and communities.
A coordinated campaign that seeks to artificially inflate the true number of Christians in Australia and decrease the number of people who do not have religious views using bigoted anti-Muslim scare tactics is especially repugnant.
If people have a religious belief, of any denomination, the Census: No Religion campaign believes that this should be recorded accurately and it is, of course, right for religious people to say so in the census. However, if people currently do not have supernatural beliefs, or have no practical or meaningful connection to religion, the only truthful answer is “No Religion”.