Three posters planned for display at railway stations as part of The Census Campaign have been refused by companies owning the advertising space, who viewed them as too likely to cause offence.
You can view all the images at humanism.org.uk/census-adverts
Two reasons were given by owners of the space: they were concerned that the use of the phrase ‘for God’s sake’ would cause widespread and serious offence and they also did not wish to take adverts relating to religion.
The BHA has reacted with astonishment that an everyday phrase should be deemed too contentious for public display.
‘It is a little tongue-in-cheek,’ BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘but in the same way that saying “bless you” has no religious implication for many, “for God’s sake” is used to express urgency and not to invoke a deity. This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous: the blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.’
The BHA also pointed out that the adverts were only tangentially related to religion, being mostly concerned with public policy and directed towards people who are not religious.
Mr Copson continued, ‘The Census Campaign is not intended to dissuade those who hold strong religious beliefs from holding them. We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious, to say so. Ticking “No religion” means that their voices will be heard and we will have a more truthful picture of what people really believe today.’
Print-quality images of the three prohibited railway posters and a bus displaying the adverts that will appear from 4 March can be downloaded at humanism.org.uk/census-adverts
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.
The Census Campaign website, with links to social media and fundraising sites, is at www.census-campaign.org.uk. British Humanist Association website, with links to supporting surveys on religion and belief, is at humanism.org.uk. British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) has been published annually by the National Centre for Social research since 1983. The 27th report was published in 2011:
- Those who profess no religion have risen from 31% to 51% between 1983 and 2009.
- In 1983 66% identified as Christian, in 2008 the number was 43%.
- In 2008 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful.
- In 2009 only 17% of the British population attend religious services at least monthly, and only 11% attend at least weekly.
- Those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 20% of the population in 2009 (40% in 1983). In 2008, it was found that 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly.
- 62% of people in Britain never attend a religious service.