Humanist campaigned to get people to tick the “not religious” option in census


In the weeks before the census, the Humanist Society of New Zealand ran a national advertising campaign encouraging New Zealanders who are not religious to say so in this year’s census.

Sara Passmore, President of the Humanist Society of New Zealand, said that “most people are happy living ethical and fulfilling lives without participating in a religion.”

“Yet, we know that when it comes to the census, many people identify as religious because that is how they were raised.”

Passmore said the Humanists wanted to connect to such people.

“As people in New Zealand are proud to identify as not religious, we can move faster towards a fully secular society where the rights and beliefs of everyone are respected, protected and celebrated.”

In a recent column, Brian Rudman has described the census as a dreary, if worthy, exercise in civic duty.

“To me, it’s been a lost opportunity to bring a bit of fun into this,” he said.

“Only the Humanist Society, no doubt sniffing another victory against their Christian foes, got into the spirit of the occasion.”

“I saw no signs of the Christians, or for that matter, the Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists or Sikhs minority religions which at the last census made up 6 percent of the population, answering the challenge.”

In the 1996 Census, 25.5 percent ticked “no religion”. Ten years later that had jumped to 34.7 percent.

In the 2013 Census, it was up to 41.5 percent.

A Royal Society of New Zealand analysis of the census results states that the full defection rate from the main Christian denominations is masked by the addition of immigrant Christians (e.g. Presbyterians and Methodists from Korea, and Catholics from the Philippines and the Pacific Islands).

“The mainstream Protestant churches have further declined (Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists); the only notable Christian growth is among some Pentecostal and independent evangelical churches, albeit from a low base.”


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