Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Questions and more questions
In England everyone has recently received the 2011 Census form. We’re supposed to fill in these forms on the 27th of March, but I’ve read the form all the way through already because the questions asked and the data generated from it is of great interest to me. I’ve used census data before in research and I will use the data from this year’s census in future research, especially as it helps sketch a picture of each parish and of the nation. It is compulsory for everyone to complete the census, to the point where you could be fined if you do not. But I find it fascinating that there is one question that is ‘voluntary’. Which question is that? It's the one about religion. Every other question is compulsory, including who you have staying overnight on the night of 27th March. Why is the religion question voluntary? Maybe it’s considered too personal, or maybe it’s too controversial.
Another question I find interesting is number 37: ‘At your workplace, what is the main activity of your employer or business?’ Well, I am paid by the Church of England. So what is the main activity of the Church of England? I know some people could come up with a few sarcastic answers to that one. But what should be the Church of England's main activity (in no more than 50 characters)? I was going to put 'The Cure of Souls'. My daughter thinks that sounds really naff.
In the past couple of days I’ve read two rather disturbing articles on the BBC News website. The first one is about a survey carried out by the British Humanist Association that suggests that two-thirds of Britons are not religious. You can read that one here.
The second article is about a study that uses census data from nine countries that shows religion will become 'extinct'. You can read it here.
What are we to make of all this? I'm mulling it over.