Make your faith count on census day

Atheists and Christians are united in calls for Australians to be honest about their religious affiliation as the fill in the census on Tuesday 9 August

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) is urging people who no longer practice or hold religious beliefs to vote “no religion” on census night.

Facebook post by ACC encouraging church members to identify as "Pentecostal" in the census

Facebook post by ACC encouraging church members to identify as “Pentecostal” in the census Australian Christian Churches

In an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Anglican minister and regular Eternity contributor Michael Jensen writes, “I am all for the census being an honest and true reflection of the state of the nation. I do not want to inflate the figures so as to give an artificial indication of the influence of religious institutions in Australia.”

But, he writes, “The census is not asking a ‘what you believe’ question: it is rather an indication of identity and affiliation … I meet lots of people who feel a strong attachment to the Anglican Church, even though they haven’t been for a long time. We are here for them at significant times in their lives – births, relationships, marriages, families, sickness, and death. At those moments in life, saying that one is ‘Anglican’ (or whatever) often turns out to have more meaning than people realised.”

The Australian Christian Churches have also appealed to their congregants to “make sure your faith will count” on 9 August. In a Facebook post, the pentecostal church movement called on church members to make sure they answer the religious affiliation question by ticking the “OTHER” box and then writing in “PENTECOSTAL” or “AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN CHURCHES”.

Atheist Foundation of Australia campaign against identifying as "Jedi" in this year's census.

Atheist Foundation of Australia campaign against identifying as “Jedi” in this year’s census. Atheist Foundation of Australia

The ACC says, “We are part of something bigger than ourselves and what is important is that everyone’s answer to Question 19 makes a huge difference to the Christian voice. Together, let’s make a collective effort to be counted and recognised as a strong influence in our nation.”

The AFA is also asking atheists to “not waste their answer” by putting down the fictional “Jedi” religion of Star Wars as their answer. Kylie Sturgess, the president of the AFA, says that ‘JEDI” is categorised as “not defined” rather than “no religion”, thereby skewing the census results, making Australia seem more religious than it is.

Posters promoting the campaign to tick the “no religion” box say: “If old religious men in robes do not represent you don’t mask yourself as ‘Jedi’.”

Christians have hit back at the AFA campaign encouraging Australians to tick ‘no religion’ in the upcoming census on August 9.

The campaign website, ‘Yes Religion’ has been launched by Christian Media & Arts Australia today and Olive Tree Media.

“This is not about whether you go to church every week, but if [religion] means something to you, why don’t you make sure our government understands that,” says Karl Faase, campaign spokesperson and head of Olive Tree Media.

Even popular news outlet Mashable is getting on the bandwagon by jokingly asking, “Do we really want anthropologists of the future to delve into the mythical and colourful history of Australia and conclude that we were a nation of next level kooks? Yes? Oh OK, never mind us then.”