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Census 2022: if you are not religious, mark “No Religion”

The Census of all the people in the Republic of Ireland is to be on Sunday 03 April 2022.

Question 12 is about the religion of each person.

The Mid-West Humanists, with the Humanist Association of Ireland, and with Atheist Ireland, ask all people who do not practise any religion to choose the option “No Religion” when replying to Question 12.

Here is a copy of Question 12, in the Census of 2022.

The Central Statistics Office have improved the question from the version of several past Censuses, to some degree. It is now more probable that a person who has no religion will choose the appropriate answer, because “No Religion” is now the first option.

For your information, we show the 2016 version of Question 12 at the end of this article, with our view why the 2022 version has improved Q12 somewhat, and how it should be improved further.

Why it is important to answer Question 12, Religion

Our Government uses information about the people, from the Census and from other sources, to help to plan how government services are distributed and administered – health, education, justice, social services, and others.

If the number of people said to have “No Religion” in the Census is close to the actual number in Ireland, the Census will have done the maximum to have Government services changed so as to be good and fair to people with no religion, as well as to people of all the various religions.

Some important errors to avoid at Question 12

The partly improved 2022 version of Question 12 most probably will lead to a larger proportion of people being marked as having no religion, even if the actual proportion has not increased. (The actual proportion surely has increased: Ireland has in fact become more secular than it was in 2016). Yet people could still make some mistakes.

In Question 12 in the Census of 2016, the open box where a person can write the name of their religion (“Other”), was before “No Religion”. Some people wrote “Atheist”, “Humanist”, “Jedi”, and some other words that are fairly surely not religions. At least those who wrote “Atheist” and “Humanist” had no religion, but they were not included in the number of people with no religion that the Central Statistics Office announced (the results of the Census).

We do not know if some of those who wrote “Jedi” and similar words had no religion, or if they were making a joke.

To maximize the number of people that the Census will say have no religion, that is, to report the number truly – if you are not religious, do not write in the box for “Other” religions. Mark the box “No Religion” when replying to Question 12.

If another person in the household is completing the Census form

An official person delivers the Census form and collects it after the Census day. This person is called the Census enumerator. The enumerator arranges one person per household to fill in the form. This person is then called Person No 1.

If you are not Person No 1, that person might enter some or all of the information about you without asking you, or incorrectly. We believe that some persons who were Person No 1 in past Censuses wrote the religion that he or she thought was the religion of other persons in the household, when that was not the other person’s true religion (or irreligion).

If you are not sure that Person No 1 will respond to Question 12 as you desire, you can ask the enumerator for a Census form for you alone. This is your right in any case, if you want to keep matters private, and you do not have to prove to the enumerator that the Person No 1 will record your details incorrectly.

Why it is important to mark “No Religion”

Many of our Government’s services have been and still are administered with a bias towards religion, with a bias towards all the people who live in Ireland having some religion, and in many instances with a bias as if nearly all the people belong to the Roman Catholic Christian religion.

The Mid-West Humanists have since 2013 campaigned to various branches of our Government to abandon these biases in particular aspects of the Constitution, laws, and methods of administering services. It has been quite difficult to convince TDs and Senators, and to convince the Constitutional Convention (2013), whom we met, that there is any need to make the Constitution, laws, and services secular.

Ministers and TDs are a lot more open to adapting how the Government serves the people, to fit with people of new religions (that is, religions that are only starting to have many adherents in Ireland), than they are to fit with people with no religion. In the Census of 2016, there were 468,400 persons (just under 10 percent of the population) recorded as having no religion, and this was greater than the number recorded with all the religions, other than Roman Catholic, together. Yet adaptations to the religions that are newer to Ireland seem to interest our Government more.

The Mid-West Humanists, with the Humanist Association of Ireland, and with Atheist Ireland, ask all people who do not practise any religion to choose the option “No Religion” when replying to Question 12.

Question 12 in the past, how it was faulty, and how to improve it fully

Here is a copy of Question 12, in the Census of 2016.

Census IRL 2016 Q12 Religion

The question is “What is your religion?” This biases a person away from considering if he or she has no religion. The new question in 2022 allows that a person may not have any religion, but it still has a bias that to have a religion is the normal or usual (default) state of a person.

The option “No Religion” was the last option in 2016. People who are asked to pick one of several printed options give some attention to the first option, and they consider whether it is correct, and then a smaller amount of attention to the next option, attention reducing further as the person scans down the list. Often a person becomes tired of reading the options. This leads to a bias towards options nearer the start of the list.

We are fairly sure that, in all the years up to and including 2016, this led to people who were not really religious choosing one of the religions at the top of the list. The name of the religion may have reminded people of the religion of their childhood, and the person now had an option which they could mark, before the person saw that “No Religion” was available at the end of the list.

Accordingly, the Mid-West Humanists, as Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association of Ireland, are fairly sure indeed that the number of people who chose “No Religion” in the Census of 2016, as well as in several previous Censuses, was substantially less than the true number of people with no religion.

While the version of the Religion question in the Census of 2022 is better than that in 2016, the sensible version would split it into 2 questions –
Q12a – Do you practise a religion? No [ ] Yes [ ]
If you answered Yes to Q12a-
Q12b – What is your religion? – Write the name of the religion here [ ]

Referendum 26 October 2018: remove “blasphemous” from Article 40 of the Constitution

Vote YES to remove the offence of blasphemy

Our leaflet contains the main reasons to vote YES. These reasons apply whether you have a religion or have no religion.
You can download or print the leaflet if you wish.

The Mid-West Humanists have campaigned against blasphemy laws from soon after we first met in 2008.

We wrote to the President and talked to the Limerick Post in 2009 as the Defamation Act 2009 was about to become law, whose Section 36 explains what amounts to the offence of blasphemy.

We wrote to and attended the Constitutional Convention in 2013 to say that the State’s obligation to have Blasphemy be an offence should be removed from Article 40 of Ireland’s constitution. Some of us went to most TDs in our region to ask that the Dáil and Senate vote for a bill to remove it, if the Convention so recommended.

After the murders in January 2015 of 10 of the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, by people who were Muslim, because Charlie Hebdo had published many cartoons that satirised Mohammed, we went on the street in Limerick to seek people’s support for a Bill to remove the blasphemy offence from the Constitution.

The Referendum is on Friday 26 October 2018!

The 37th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2018 proposes to change one word in Article 40.6.1.i.
It would remove “blasphemous,” from the sentence
“The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
If a majority vote YES, the sentence will then be
“The publication or utterance of seditious or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

The Mid-West Humanists support every person who favours a secular society and state, and who favours freedom of expression, to vote YES in the Referendum on Friday 26 October 2018.
It is on the same day as the election for President of Ireland.

We ask any person who thinks it almost sure to receive a majority YES to make sure that you yourself vote. If a large number who favour removing the Blasphemy offence do not cast their vote, the majority could be a NO. Please go to the polling station on 26 October 2018 and vote YES.

If you want the referendum to pass, it needs your vote as well as all the other YES votes.

The Campaign for a YES vote

At present, we have the use of a simple portable table, on whose front can hang the IHEU map of the world’s blasphemy laws, and enough volunteers to have the table on the street and give leaflets to the public on 2 days per week until the day of the vote. The present volunteers are in Limerick city and have been out on 29 September and 06 October.

You can read the leaflet on our Aims and Media page, or at Vote to remove Blasphemy from the Constitution.
Print the leaflet if you wish to distribute it.

If any person wants to help the campaign to remove the Blasphemy offence from the Constitution, please email us at info@midwesthumanists.com.
A helper need not have recently attended the Mid-West Humanists.
Emails to suggest any other ideas to campaign are also welcome.

Go to vote on Friday 26 October and vote YES!

Mid-West Humanists campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution

We should remove Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution of Ireland

We should bring Abortion Services home to Ireland

At their meeting in January 2018 the Mid-West Humanists decided that democracy means that the Dáil and Senate should let the people vote on removing Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. (At this date, the Government has said there will be a Referendum on this in May 2018.)
We write about how the 8th Amendment (Article 40.3.3) was added to the Constitution in 1983, the social and political climate connected with this, and its later modification in 1992. We also show Article 40.3.3 (page 172 of the PDF version of the online Constitution).

The Mid-West Humanists composed a leaflet of information for voters, including reasons to vote Yes (to remove Article 40.3.3), at the meeting in February 2018. You can read Repeal the 8th Amendment on our Aims and Media page.

We have another post on why the Mid-West Humanists are campaigning publicly. We welcome comments there, or on this post, or in our Facebook group.

On the Streets

Some Mid-West Humanists have been on the streets, starting in Limerick city centre on Saturday 24 February2018, to give our leaflets to the public. We expect to be on the streets in Limerick again on Saturday 03 March 2018, when several other groups will also be campaigning for the repeal of the 8th amendment.
We hope to campaign on further dates in the same and in further places.

 

Constitution of Ireland 1937
Article 40.3.3

8th Amendment, 1983

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Added 1992 (13th Amendment)

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.

Added 1992 (14th Amendment)

This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.

History of Article 40.3.3

This subsection of Article 40 was added by Referendum in late 1983, after a small set of people pressed both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to do so, in the campaigns for the general elections in 1981, spring 1982, and autumn 1982. This set of people told the politicians that they feared the Supreme Court would declare termination of pregnancy a constitutional right, as the United States of America Supreme Court had declared in 1973; and that they feared that the Dáil and Senate would pass a law to permit abortion, as the United Kingdom Parliament had passed in 1967. Continue reading

Mid West Humanists’ Submission to Minister for Education and Skills on admission rules to National Schools

On 16 January 2017 the Department of Education sought submissions from interested persons and groups on the role of denominational religion in the school admissions process and possible approaches for making changes.

The Mid-West Humanists today 11 March 2017 have sent the following submission to the Department.

———————————————————————————————————————

Mid West Humanists                                                           March 2017

 

To Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education and Skills

Contents

  1. The Mid-West Humanists make this submission
  2. Who the Mid-West Humanists are
  3. Mid-West Humanists’ reasons to meet includes the problems with education for those with no religion
  4. The plan we submit will benefit also people in religions with less numerous adherents, and will make governing the State and keeping peace easier
  5. Subjects that the Consultation Paper and the Minister mention, which this Submission uses
    5.1. Lower admission priority and the pressure to baptise are not fair to families and parents
    5.2. Ethos is a part of Approach 4(2) – so this Submission addresses ethos
    5.3. Understanding the different religions in the community and including all children with respect
    5.4. The Constitution of Ireland, parts relevant to education and State schools
  6. Principles of the Mid-West Humanists on which their view how to run National Schools is built
    6.1. A society fair to all people, and no rights for institutions
    6.2. Children’s rights,
    1) to develop intellectually, that adults and the State not blur their differentiation of ideas based on evidence and reason from ideas that people believe without evidence
    2) to know all the variety of people among whom they live/ will live, to feel at home in society
  7. The Mid-West Humanists’ view on the Paper’s 4 or 6 suggested approaches to admissions to schools
    7.1. General – all 4 or 6 approaches are unreasonable
    7.2. Approaches 1, 2, 3, 4(3)
    7.3. Approach 4(2) – pressure to agree to ethos is the same as pressure to baptise, unfair
    7.4. Approach 4(1) – children’s rights will be infringed after admission unless ethos is secular
  8. The Mid-West Humanists’ own view on the best admission rules, and the correct ethos
    8.1. Repeal the Equal Status Act 2000 Section 7.3(c) entirely
    8.2. Teachers must teach all the religions together to all children together, fairly and neutrally
    8.3. To not blur distinctions of basing on evidence, teachers not to state religious ideas as true
    8.4. The Constitution gives the teaching of religious doctrines to parents and not to the State
    8.5. The State makes children attend school, so it must be fair and make schools secular
  9. Replies to the 4 questions that the Consultation Paper asks about all approaches
    9.1. It is unfair that any religious group have State-funded schools
    9.2. The Constitution mandates the State removing religious influence in schools which it funds
    9.3. The legal support for National Schools and the Minister’s power to change how they run
    9.4. Unintended impacts of our approach are not a problem
  10. Additional ideas
    10.1. The value to society of all schools being secular, with no discrimination on admission
    10.2. Constitution and international conventions support secular ethos and no discrimination
    10.3. Misconceptions about National Schools’ legal status, and the real status
  11. Conclusion
    11.1. Changes needed and the power to make changes: the changes are constitutional
    11.2. Reasons for changes: children’s rights to development and to be at home in society

Continue reading

Mid-West Humanists on Radio LCCR

Mid-West Humanists

Limerick City Community Radio (LCCR)

The Mid-West Humanists have broadcast their second radio program today Sunday 04 December 2016, at 15:00 in the afternoon – on Education.

You can listen to this again on LCCR at lccr.ie on Tuesday 06 December 2016 at 19:00.

If you view the LCCR Schedule for Sundays, our program is part of the Community Focus series at 15:00. If you view the schedule for Tuesdays, Community Focus at 19:00 is to be the program in that series already broadcast on the preceding weekend.

Limerick City Community Radio (LCCR) broadcasts on 99.9 megacycles per second on Saturdays and Sundays from 08:00 to 24:00 (midnight) – reception is only within a short distance of Limerick City – and on its website. On weekdays LCCR is only available on its website, for various hours (less than the weekend).

On weekdays the 99.9 megacycles per second channel in the frequency modulation (FM) service on Very High Frequency (VHF) band 2 (87.5 to 108 Mc/s) broadcasts Wired FM, which is the radio station of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Thus the radio data signal, on a radio that shows this, will display “Wired FM”, even on Saturdays and Sundays.

How Mid-West Humanists  came to be on the radio

Limerick City Community Radio ran 36 hours of sponsored programs by community groups on 31 October to 01 November 2016. LCCR accepted our live studio discussion program in that series.

Program 1.

Broadcast at 21:00 on 31 10 2016

Discussion on humanism, education, and the humanist vision of society – 3 Mid-West Humanists and one of us chairing, live in their studio.

On 01 11 2016 (the day after Program 1), LCCR asked us to make a program to be in the Community Focus series every month.

Program 2.

Broadcast at 15:00 on 04 12 2016

On education – recorded in advance in the LCCR studio.

We interviewed Maria Collins-Harper, who has been involved in securing the new secondary school to open in Limerick in 2018, followed by discussion with 2 Mid-West Humanist and Maria, on what Ireland needs in the education system so that people growing up can be truly educated and also integrated in the society in which people live.

Future Programs

Future programs will be at 15:00 on about every 4th Sunday. The precise Sunday for our next program is not settled yet.

Program 3 will be about the celebration and the celebrations of life.

World Blasphemy Day 2016

30 September 2016, a Friday, is World Blasphemy Day.

The Center for Inquiry of Amherst, N.Y., U.S.A., proposed this annual special day in 2009.

It is a day for all people in all parts of the world who value free expression to draw attention to laws that make blasphemy an offence and thus limit your free expression of ideas – either protesting at such laws in your own country, or in other countries, or both.

The End Blasphemy Laws campaign was started in January 2015 by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the European Humanist Federation, and Atheist Alliance International.

Mid-West Humanists at Thomas Street, Limerick for World Blasphemy Day

Several Mid-West Humanists will be at the corner of Thomas Street and O’Connell Street in Limerick on 30 September 2016 from about 12:00 until at least 14:00.

We will have a map of the world from the End Blasphemy Laws campaign, showing which countries have laws against blasphemy, coloured according to the penalty – death in some countries.

We will have pictures that could be offensive to adherents of some religions, all of them amusing (as long as humour is not contrary to your religion or to your non-religious life-stance).

Our interest is not in offending people, but in protesting at a Constitution and a law that prohibit free discussion on religion, whereas there is no law limiting public discussion on your cherished political party or sporting team (or any other idea which you hold dear).

We hope you will come by us, and we can give more information about laws against blasphemy, and the bad effects of such laws. We will give leaflets on the reasons to repeal the law and remove the relevant sentence from Article 40 of Ireland’s Constitution.

We hope this will be enjoyable for as many people as possible, including people with religion (many people with religion write their own jokes and satires about their religion).

September 2016 Meeting

The Mid-West Humanists meeting on Wednesday 21 September 2016 had a further discussion on abortion law in Ireland (that is, the Constitution, Article 40.3.3, added by the 8th amendment in 1983).

All those who attended gave views. There were several different views, all with supporting reasons.

As this is a very important matter, the whole of a future meeting will be devoted to abortion and the 8th Amendment to Ireland’s Constitution (1983).

The September meeting also resolved that several Mid-West Humanists will be on the street in Limerick on World Blasphemy Day 30 September 2016 – details here.

Mid-West Humanists send submission to Department of Education on strategy 2016-2018

The new government that formed in 2016 made a Program for Government. This includes chapter 10 (page 86) on Education.

The Department of Education and Skills asked people for submissions on the Program, to contribute to the Department’s strategy for 2016 to 2018. The strategy was online, but is not available since the date for receiving submissions. They published a survey form with their set of questions. They set Wednesday 08 June 2016 as the last day for submissions.

The Mid-West Humanists have sent a submission early on 08 June 2016.

Our submission concentrates on secular education, how this is more important than a greater variety or diversity of patrons for schools (that plan is in fact a mistake); and on how the Minister and Department of Education and Skills can make all National Schools fairly secular by instructing those schools to follow the System of National Education (as their leases oblige them), Rule 69 of the Rules for National Schools of 1965, and Article 44.2.4 of Ireland’s Constitution.

Submissions will be available on the Department’s website, but we also show our submission here.

Continue reading

February meeting cancelled because of ROSA Limerick Election Candidates’ Debate

Special Notice on Cancellation of meeting 17 February 2016

We became aware only on 11 February of another meeting at exactly the same time, that would be of great interest to many Mid-West Humanists, connected with the General Election on 26 February. By Saturday 13 February we decided to cancel our meeting, so that Mid-West Humanists can attend-

General Election Candidates’ Debate (Limerick candidates for election to the Dáil) – organised by Rosa Limerick, who campaign for the reproductive health and other services for women.

Date                    :          Wednesday 17 February 2016

Time                   :          20:00

Place                   :          Pery Hotel, Glentworth Street, Limerick

One of Rosa Limerick’s 3 main subjects for the Dáil Candidates is about Public Services, “Do you think that in the areas of health and education the State should provide support to people of all faiths and none equally? How is that possible in the current system?”

This is an opportunity to put the case for secular education and health services to candidates for election to the Dáil. It is unfortunate for the Mid-West Humanists that this will not include candidates in Clare and Tipperary, but the message for secular services will receive some publicity.

Rosa Limerick have welcomed people such as the Mid-West Humanists to attend, people who would tell the candidates the value of secular education and health services, and people’s entitlement to these.

Human Rights in Access to Education

We have campaigned since 2014 for secular education in Ireland. We learned that the leases of National Schools are quite secular, so that only the religion of the Trustees of each school marks the school as connected to a religion.

On Friday 20 November 2015 we have organised a public meeting

“Human Rights in Access to Education”

City Library, The Granary, Michael Street, Limerick

at 19:45.

This meeting is to continue to make people aware that the present set of schools discriminates against some children (mostly, those of the smaller religious groups and those with no religion); and the segregated schools infringes the rights of all children to grow up knowing all the children in their district (and thus in their society), and in some cases makes it harder for them to understand certain other people with whom they did not mix while at school.

The meeting is open to all people.

Here is some of our campaign so far on secular education and abolishing segregation and discrimination.

Continue reading