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The data on religion produced by the last Census gave a very misleading picture of the UK, cutting the number of non-religious people in half.

This is because the question is worded in a way that leads people to tick a religious option by presuming you are religious.

We’re reminding people who do not believe in or practise a religion to reflect that honestly in the Census. The results of the Census affect everyone. So if you’re not religious, please, say so!

If you’re already planning on ticking the ‘No religion’ option, please let us know below. Or you can click one of the other buttons to find out more about why we’re campaigning for greater awareness of this issue.

Frequently asked questionsMore detail

Why does this matter?

If you say you’re religious on the Census, even if you don’t really believe in or practise a religion, then you will be treated by policymakers in local and national governments (and by some media and religious groups) as if you are a full religious believer.

This matters because government and local authorities use the data from the Census to make important decisions that affect you.

Census results are used when allocating funding to services such as education, health, social care, and pastoral care. Even our constitutional rights can be affected.

How Census data gets misused

Exaggerated religion figures have meant time and money gets spent on maintaining unfair religious discrimination in our society. Over the last decade this has included:

  • Increasing the number of faith schools
  • Enforcing compulsory Christian worship in schools
  • Contracting out public services to religious organisations who can discriminate against non-religious or LGBT service users
  • Preserving 26 bishops who vote in Parliament
  • Opting religious groups out of equality laws and other new legislation
  • Making even more religious-only programming on the BBC, such as Thought for the Day.

Conversely, if the non-religious are more accurately counted it will encourage:

  • More state schools that accept all pupils equally regardless of their parents’ beliefs
  • More schools replacing compulsory worship with inclusive assemblies
  • Swapping faith-based religious instruction in schools for inclusive education about all the different beliefs and values
  • Equal pastoral support for non-religious people in hospitals, prisons, and the armed services – not just religious chaplains
  • A second look at religious discrimination in our laws, including things like clerics voting in Parliament (the only countries that do this are the UK and Iran!)

Read more in-depth information about how the use of a leading Census question disadvantages the non-religious.

What you can do

This bit’s simple. If you don’t believe or practise a religion, then when you are asked about your religion on the Census, tick the ‘No religion’ or ‘None’ box.

  • In England and Wales the question asked is ‘What is your religion?’ and the box we encourage people to tick is ‘No religion’
  • In Northern Ireland the question asked is ‘What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?’ and the box we encourage people to tick is ‘None’.
  • In Scotland the question is the same as in Northern Ireland, but the Census has been delayed until 2022.

FAQs: Common questions and advice on filling in the 2021 Census


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