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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No religion - Media release by the Atheist Foundation of Australia

From here:

As the next Australian Census approaches (9 August 2011), the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) is preparing for one of its biggest and most important projects. The AFA is campaigning to encourage individuals and families to think about the importance and impact of their answer to this leading Census question: “What is the person’s religion?”

“Unfortunately, because of the wording, many people will select the religion of their baptism or initiation at youth, despite not being a religious person at all,” said David Nicholls, President of the Atheist Foundation.

The AFA will be unveiling billboards across the nation in major cities stating “Census 2011: Not religious now? Mark ‘No religion’ and take religion out of politics.”

“It is time the Australian community questioned whether they hold religious beliefs or not. How they answer this question in the Census will influence decisions by Australian governments. Often the transfer of taxpayer money to religious organisations is justified on the basis of the Census results, as are special concessions and exemptions including the right to discriminate against some groups.

“This very sentiment has hit a sore spot in NSW with a decision handed down last week to allow the Wesley Mission, and thus Christianity, to discriminate against homosexual people on the basis of religion,” David Nicholls said.

Along with the AFA, organisations across the globe are campaigning for the same at Census time. Most outstanding is the British Humanist Association’s campaign titled “If you’re not religious, for God’s sake say so!”

The AFA also wants to draw attention to how misleading the official figures can be. Twenty percent of the population are aged under 14 years, and the representation of them in these Census figures is important. “As Professor Richard Dawkins rightly points out, children are not little Buddhists, Muslims or Christians; they are only parroting parents, peers and culture. Furthermore, a parent will be filling in this form on their behalf and also for older children.

“The highest number of non-religious people are placed in the demographic between adolescence and middle age, where they are able to think critically and rationally about the world around us and the myths that have been haunting us for generations.

“The figures for godless individuals in the New Zealand Census this year are expected to reach or pass the 50 percent mark, and good on them, but it should be us. It will be a first for any western democracy and is an indication of the steep upward trend in Atheism and Agnosticism of the last decade,” he said.

Donations can be made via the following methods.

Cheques/Money Orders to -

Atheist Foundation Of Australia Inc

Private Mail Bag 6

Maitland SA 5573

Direct Deposit

Commonwealth Bank

Atheist Foundation Of Australia

BSB 065503

Acc No. 10120389


Charles Sullivan said...

I think Ophelia might like this just enough to send Chris Stedman leaning backward on his skinny Humanist ass, and to prove that Humanism is alive and well in England, but is confused with religion and God at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.

"Most outstanding is the British Humanist Association’s campaign titled “If you’re not religious, for God’s sake say so!”"

H.H. said...

That sounds like an awesome campaign with a chance to effect real social change. Any sense on how it's being generally received?

Eamon Knight said...

The upcoming Canadian census has a religion question that directs the respondent to put down the name of a religious institution "whether or not they are still a practicing member". I don't know whether my name is still on the roles of the United Church, but that sure as hell is not what's going on my form!

Anonymous said...

David Nicholls timing here is pretty off. Given the census is not till August wouldn’t he have been better to hold off on this for a few weeks and encourage people to give to the flood appeal? Surely it is better at this time to be seen to be giving to those in real need rather than seeking funds for what is at the end of the day is just an exercise in self promotion. As for the census question on religion I think I will stick with Jedi as my response. May the Force be with you.

Dimitri said...

That sounds interesting. "Take religion out of politics". It's exactly 5 words on a census form. How is that religion in politics? I agree 100% with him on .. “As Professor Richard Dawkins rightly points out, children are not little Buddhists, Muslims or Christians; they are only parroting parents, peers and culture...
and the following paragraph. That is to blame on the public education. Take everything you hear and just roll with it. Don't think about it. I, as an adolescent (16) see this all the time. Teens my age (and even many adults I meet) can't analyse the world and situations worth beans. They agree with the majority and don't stand by their opinion. This doesn't mean to just trash your parents religion and everything, but one has to think for themselves. Critical thinking.

Parents: "you've got one more chance to do right, and it's tonight". Your the parents, do the job that you committed to doing. It's your job to tell your kids why you believe what you do, and tell them that it is their freedom to choose in life. "Have you ever loved someone so much, you'd give an arm for 'em, not the expression, no, literally give an arm for, when they know their your heart and you know that your their armour, and you would destroy anyone who would try to harm 'em. But what happens when karma, turns right around and bites you, and everything you stand for turns on you and spites you?" I see parents just "let god and let be" or whatever, just leaving their kids to life. Let life mould your kid?! Then in that case their not your kid anymore, their life's kid. If you don't explain and teach your kids in what you believe, then your kids will teach themselves. There is a moral law, and it's your job to teach your kids what that is. Yes, tell them they can choose for themselves, but what good does that do when their 6? Be open to others ideas, but don't let others ideas shape you to whatever. The upbringing of today's youth is left to the school, government and friends, and is suggested to be left at that. It's disgusting.