National census: Atheists call on non-believers to speak out

By Ian Dunt

Non-believers are being told to highlight their lack of faith in the national census, as atheist campaigners try to highlight the extent of their support.

Two posters are being put up in central London from today in an effort to convince people filling out the census to be honest about their beliefs.

Campaigners stress that many non-believers tick Christian as a cultural or reflex response when they actually have no faith.

Those responses are then used in arguments about faith schools and the role of bishops in the Lords.

The advertising slogan read: “If you’re not religious, for God’s sake says so.”

The advertising campaign, launched by the British Humanist Association (BHA), was originally rejected from advertising spaces outside railways stations because companies hosting the spaces refused to host “religious advertising”.

The Committee of Advertising Practice then advised media buyers to refuse the advert on the basis that it could cause “widespread or serious offence”.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the BHA, commented: “We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious, to say so.

“Ticking ‘no religion’ means that their voices will be heard and we will have a more truthful picture of what people really believe today, which cannot be misused by government and policy-makers.”

One poster will be on display on Goswell Road and another on Hammersmith Road.

The 2001 census saw 70% of respondents chose ‘Christian, followed by 14.7% ticking ‘no religion’.

But 0.7% of people marked their religion as ‘Jedi’ following a campaign protesting the inclusion of spiritual questions in the document, making it officially England and Wales’ fourth largest religion.