Letter to Crikey

Si Gladman / 06 June 2024

This letter was sent to Crikey on 6 June 2024.

Dear Editor,

I’m writing on behalf of the Rationalist Society of Australia to ask that Crikey correct an inaccurate headline to an article published in late May.

The heading to the article, ‘Religious privilege: Showdown looming between atheists and church groups over census question’, is factually wrong.

The article is about the response of a coalition of pro-secular groups to calls by the Catholic Church for the government to intervene in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ proposal to change the religion question in the Census.

That coalition of groups – also known as ‘Census21’ – consists of the Rationalist Society, Humanists Australia, Humanists Victoria, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Sydney Atheists, and the National Secular Lobby. At the 2021 Census, this coalition encouraged Australians to mark ‘No religion’ if they were no longer religious to help deliver more accurate Census data. The biased nature of the religion question in the Census – in presuming all respondents have a religion – inflates the religious affiliation result, which then informs government decisions about funding and resourcing. 

Clearly, the coalition of groups is made up of more than just ‘atheists’. Members and supporters of the groups involved in the Census21 campaign – as well as members of the public who supported the campaign – include people who identify as humanists, rationalists, agnostics, non-religious, and even…religious!

The inaccurate headline perpetuates an inadequate understanding in the media and broader society about the rich diversity of pro-secular and non-religious Australians. 

It would be more accurate for the headline to say “… between pro-secular and church groups …”.

In the interest of accuracy and of ensuring that your readers are properly informed, will Crikey please correct the headline? It would also be helpful for Crikey to note in the article that it made an error in the original headline.


Si Gladman

Executive Director,

Rationalist Society of Australia

All the more reason.