Roisin Ingle writes about getting ready to fill in her family’s Census 2016 form in last Saturday’s Irish Times (23 April).
She shares our view that the religion questions must be reformed before we conduct the next census.
“It’s unfortunate that yet again the religion question is not about religious practice. A question about practice would provide a useful barometer of Irish society in 2016.
Instead the question is “What is your religion?”
When faced with this question many will still tick the Roman Catholic box because they associate culturally with that belief system. Not because they go to mass every week, or confession on a regular basis or because saying the rosary is a vital part of their lives. Cultural Catholics will tick the box because it’s the system they were born in to and the system many still use to commemorate important life rituals around marriage, birth and death.
The box will be ticked because when they read Question 12 they don’t really have to think. For many people who grew up in this country, when asked “What is your religion?” Roman Catholic would seem like the obvious, perhaps the only, answer”.
“The question, for many, doesn’t require pause for thought. But “What religion do you practice?” That’s a whole other question. That is one that makes people reflect and consider their own religious practice and that of their children. It’s a question that keeps us honest”.