A humanist group is telling members of the public not to identify themselves as Christians on next year’s census.
The campaign, which was launched today by the British Humanist Association (BHA), comes five months before the next census of England and Wales which is scheduled to take place on 27 March.
The group hope that their Census Campaign, with the slogan of ‘If you’re not religious, for God’s sake say so!’, will persuade the public to identify themselves as non-religious.
During the last census, which took place in 2001, 42 million people chose to identify themselves as Christians. This amounts to almost 72 per cent of the population.
The BHA has accused the last census of “grossly undercounting the number of non-religious people and greatly inflating the number of Christians”.
The BHA has claimed that next year’s census questions are misleading and urged people to identify themselves as non-religious.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “The flawed wording and the positioning of the religion question in the census in the context of ethnicity encourages people to respond as if they have a religion, and especially over-inflates the ‘Christian’ category”.
He added: “But what people do not realise is that by ticking the ‘Christian’ box rather than the ‘no religion’ box – which would more accurately reflect their identity – they have contributed to data used to justify an increase in the number of faith schools, the public funding of religious groups, keeping bishops in the House of Lords as of right, and the continuation of compulsory worship in schools.”
Last month the Integrated Household Survey, which analysed the responses of almost 450,000 adults, revealed that 71.4 per cent of the population identify themselves as Christian, a figure that supports the 2001 census data.
A spokesman for the Church of England welcomed the figures saying: “The results of the survey confirm just how important a part of British society the Christian faith is.
“The figures back up the results of the last national census and the latest research on church attendance showing that any decline there has been has bottomed out.”