06 February 2011

 

Launch of Census Bus Campaign

The Society with the support of Skeptics in the pub recently announced the launch of this campaign and achieved good coverage in the Leicester Mercury.

The article began:
People who claim to be Christian when they do not practise the religion are creating a "misleading" picture of Britain, it has been claimed.
Leicester Secular Society is calling for non-believers to tick the 'no religion' box on this year's census.
The society says that during the 2001 census, many people felt compelled to answer 'Christian' when it came to their religious belief, either out of habit or because they felt they ought to.
But it says that doing so leads to inaccurate figures, which are then used to justify policies that "do not reflect the real demographics of our society".
 The piece attracted 45 comments, but unfortunately many concentrated on accusing the Society of targeting Christianity and ignoring Islam.

Kulgan began:  
I wonder what would be said if the Leicester Secular Society said 'People are Muslim but do not practice Islam should tick No Religion'?
 and subsequently said:
My comment is on the fact that Leicester Secular Society have taken the easy option of targetting Christians because they know the uproar they would cause if they had said the same against Muslims? Whether that is right or wrong is another issue.

Leicester Secular Society who purport to promote equality seem to targetting one particular religion. Religionism, or the true colours of LSS coming to the fore?
Matt made an observation:
Look, it's common sense. It's implausible that 7 out 10 people in this country can be genuine christians, I can hardly think of a handful out of the 100's possibly 1000's of people I have met over the years that have any religious beliefs at all. The majority of those people were white so it's common-sense to make the assumption that the census is painting a hugely distorted picture of the religious make up of this country.

Ned put the Society's viewpoint:
According to the 2010 British Social Attitudes Survey, those who profess no-religion as an identity have risen from 31% to 43% between 1983 and 2008. Yet the 2001 census data suggests that this figure is only 14.8%. The Census also concluded that there were more Jedis than Jews. This the reason for the Secular Society campaign.

The Society is NOT singling out Christians, since there are plenty other people who might identify themselves as Muslims or Hindhus without really being believers. Religion is a belief and you cannot really still be a Christian/Hindhu/Muslim/Jew if you cease to believe.
hmmm then intervened:
Kulgan has a point. Isn't it about time these particular secularists are had for religious discrimination? That will wipe the smile off their faces, and their enjoyment in convincing people that there is no god, but not offering any alternative. 
I responded:
Not sure how Leicester Secular Society http://www.lsec.org.uk could be "had" for religious discrimination. The talks at the Hall include people from all backgrounds. Tomorrow (3/2/11) Dilwar Hussain, Head of the Policy Research Centre at the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, Leicestershire (http://www.islamic-foundation.org.uk/User/Home.aspx) will be giving a talk on "British Secularism and Religion".

I think it is also incorrect to accuse the members of Leicester Secular Society of only ever targeting Christianity for criticism. Take a look at the letter "Islam: A lifestyle choice" http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/letters/Islam-lifestyle-choice/article-3158705-detail/article.html. However, based on the census, Christianity is be far the largest religious group and it is the established religion. Removing religious privilege is at the core of secularism and so an established church will always be something that the Society opposes.

As to "any alternative", this is what it says on the membership application form:
I then listed the Principal Aims of Leicester Secular Society.



This provoked hmmm to say:
What utter lies!!! If you truly believe that there is no god.. faith etc why go around widely publisiing utter crap on adverts etc. You just excel in making people miserable and giving them no hope. And yes you do focus on christianity as you see it as weak and unable to answer back. Its cowardly that you don't pick on those who get offended much more easily in a city like Leicester. the trouble is as christians they are told to turn the other cheek, so they wouldn't say anything back and extremist secularists like you portray yourself here as get away with it.
I responded:
Please specify where I have lied.

hmmm, leicester also said:
"If you truly believe that there is no god.. faith etc why go around widely publisiing utter crap on adverts etc. You just excel in making people miserable and giving them no hope".

I would suggest that religion in general far excels secularism in "making people miserable". Going around worrying about whether or not you are going to end up in hell is not a good way of feeling joyful. I believe this is a particular problem with the Muslim population as well as the more literalist interpretations of Christianity.

hmmm, leicester also said:
"And yes you do focus on christianity as you see it as weak and unable to answer back".

Christianity "weak and unable to answer back"? Please pull the other one. For a start you are answering back (and I would strongly defend your right to do so). Lets see - 26 Bishops in the House of Lords, a free column for the Bishop in the Mercury each week, "Thought for the Day" every morning on Radio 4, in most state schools a Christian form of worship every day is prescribed by law, predominant religion in Religious Education syllabus, 70% of the population being believers  (according the the last census). I could go on.

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