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A campaign has been launched by Irish atheists to have the preference to mark their religious preference in the next census, due to take place on Sunday April 10, 2011.
“Honest to Godless” has been launched by Atheist Ireland, a group devoted to the separation of church and state in Ireland.
“You won’t write in your childhood home address unless you still live there,” the appeal of the Atheist Ireland website says.
“So don’t write in your childhood religion unless you still really practice it.”
The group maintains that it is vital there is an accurate account of the number of atheists as it could influence government spending and policies relating to education and health.
The majority of primary schools in Ireland are church owned, despite being funded by the department of education.
Options available to those filling out the religion question on the Irish census form include Roman Catholic; Church of Ireland; Presbyterian; Methodist or Islamic faiths; or no religion.
Members of other religions may fill out the details in a separate box provided.
The group has called on atheists to tick the box marked “no religion: on the census form.
“Please don’t write in ‘Atheist’. It’s not a religion,” the website explains.
“That makes some people mistakenly think that atheism is a religion, and creates the impression that there are far fewer atheists than is actually the case.”
Data from the 2007 census shows that “No religion” was second most commonly ticked next to “Roman” Catholic. Figures had rose by 48,000 since 2002.