Every five years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a national survey – called the Census – to collect data in order to build an accurate picture of who we are as Australians.

Census data is used by governments and many other organisations to inform a wide range of important decisions and policies.

One of the questions asks respondents to nominate their religion. Religion statistics from the Census are used to inform policies and funding that affect the daily lives of all Australians — including schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, universities, places of worship, chaplaincy programs, laws governing religious and non-religious freedoms, allocation of time on public radio and other media, and so on.

What’s the problem?

The Census result for religion does not accurately reflect Australia’s religious views.

This is due to a large number of Australians marking that they belong to a religion when in fact they no longer really practise or hold those beliefs.

As a result, public funding is skewed unfairly toward religious organisations and programs. 

The inaccurate data also gives religious organisations a stronger voice and more influence in the media than they actually deserve.

Although Census data show that, over time, the percentage of Australians identifying as non-religious has been rapidly increasing – from 12.9% in 1991 to 30.1% in 2016 – with accurate data, it should be even higher.

What we're doing

For the 2021 Census, we teamed up with a number of like-minded freethinking organisations for the Census21: Not Religious? Mark ‘No Religion’ campaign.

Members of the coalition included, in addition to the Rationalist Society, the Atheist Foundation of Australia, Humanists Australia, Humanists Victoria, National Secular Lobby and Sydney Atheists.

In the weeks leading up to the Census in August 2021, the campaign encouraged each Australian to reflect on their personal beliefs and, if they no longer saw themselves as religious, to mark ‘No Religion’.

What you can do

On the website, you can sign up to get updates delivered to your email when they happen. The coalition behind the campaign will send out updates when further developments, such as when the Census results for 2021 are released.

You can view and share updates, videos and other content from the campaign’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram page and YouTube channel.

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