Religion in the Census

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Commenting on the launch of Census Campaign around the issue of data about religion and non-religion in the England and Wales Census, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"The formulation of the question on religion in the last Census was extremely unhelpful and needs changing. It leads to people treating the issue of religion as a question about ethnic heritage and culture, rather than belief, and produces misleading results that confuse public policy makers and civic bodies (faith and non-faith based) alike.

"From the perspective of the churches, it is also unhealthy that Census data which underestimates the character of an increasingly mixed-belief society, in which non-belief is a significant and growing factor, should be used to prop up a partial, functionalist and complacent account of the place and status of organised religion in public life - such as that embodied in the propagation of an Established Church, rather than faith bodies free of the state."