The census campaign is just days away and I would like to point out writing Jedi, Pastafarian or anything else along those lines will not get counted. Neither Pastafarian or Jedi is a recognised religion in Australia as a result identifying yourself as one gets you marked as “not defined”. The problem with this is that Government policy is sometimes guided by the census statistics so if a percentage of people are recorded as “not defined” the Government will use those incorrect statistics in policy planning by assuming the accuracy of the census data.
But it’s not just the government that use census data. Many lobby groups and corporations also use data collected by the census. If you’re non-religious and you mark anything other than “No Religion” (which is a recognised and counted response) then you are balancing the statistics in favour of religion. In 2006 55,000 identified themselves as Jedi, not a single one of those individuals was counted in the “non-religious” category as a result of writing Jedi instead of ticking the “No Religion” box.
I think it’s a fairly safe bet that people who mock religion are predominantly non-religious and while it may be fun to mark Jedi or Pastafarian on the census form doing so will ensure that you aren’t counted correctly and as a result religious lobby groups have more power to persuade the government because statistics may show fewer non-religious people than there actually are.
Another way that people screw the statistics is by marking the faith they were brought up in despite no longer belonging to that faith. So unless you genuinely believe in the doctrine of a particular faith the only thing you should be marking on the census form in “No Religion”.
The census is all about statistics, and ensuring that the government has the most accurate dataset possible is that best way to ensure that your interests are represented in government policy and decision making. So don’t screw the statistics in favor of religion: instead answer the census honestly to ensure that you are not incorrectly counted.
No Religion? Just mark “No Religion”.
More information is available at: censusnoreligion.org