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Census must change to stop “Spiritual Pork-barreling”

By Brian Morris

Authoritarian religion – throughout history – has had a seamless simpatico relationship with authoritarian governments. Think middle-ages, the Conquistadors, and Catholic pogroms against heretics. Over recent decades it’s become a triumvirate of conservative clerics, politicians and media hacks – trying to stamp out rationalism!

This census is a classic example of how fundamentalist religion, politics and media have come together.

Of course, they were driven to tightly re-group to fight off the dastardly ‘secularists’ who dared to challenge dishonesty in the perpetual census question on religion. It’s been hopelessly biased since the first census in 1911.

But what does it matter if the data is a bit skewed? More on that shortly, but first, what’s going on?

Secular groups across the country have commissioned reputable independent national polls, and voluminous academic research, to amass indisputable “evidence” that ABS data on religion is fatally flawed. It matters simply because there are serious consequences.

But in similar vein to fervent anti-Vaxxers, QAnon conspiracists, and Young-Earth evangelicals – “evidence” and “facts” are completely irrelevant to conservative MPs, fundamentalist Christians, and pseudo-journalists.

Take this incredible interview on news.com.au with Peta Credlin and Michael Sukkar MP, billed as the “minister for the census”. It’s loaded with hate and bile and panic – that Barbarians are hammering at the Pearly Gates!

The secular Census Campaign has been a measured and rational effort to present the facts that this religious question is collecting tainted data, which grants unfair billions to religious businesses. More on that shortly. But:

Peta Credlin: “Why are they (secularists) so scared of Christianity?” and “…it diminishes our values, it puts the family unit under threat if you diminish faith.” Really, how so?

Minister Sukkar: “…It’s an intolerant hatred of people of faith and of faith itself.” and “I think it’s quite bizarre that people would be motivated to try and influence how other people respond to their Census but I suspect that it’s an underlying intolerance and indeed a hatred for people of faith.”

“… pressure from relatively strange, unusual groups trying to tell you how to answer your Census should be ignored … these sorts of unusual groups (are) trying to pressure you or cajole you into answering a Census in any way other than what is truthful.”

Oh, the irony – they want their truth. But they can’t handle the real “truth”. Tones here of Jack Nicholson, from the film, ‘A Few Good Men’ (54 seconds). It’s the unvarnished literal truth that’s difficult for the indoctrinated.

And there’s more of this bizarre right-wing “fake news” here, and here, and here, and here. As you’d expect, too, social media is alive with anti-secular trolls who think the sky will fall in if the Christian vote declines (again!).

Which it will! But only marginally! And that’s because, like all past census questions on religion, it’s knowingly flawed. Nine out of ten psychologists will tell you that – the tenth is probably an evangelist.

All reference below will confirm the census question, “What is the person’s religion?” is biased, as it implicitly assumes every citizen has one. Links in the next paragraph show the government knows the data is skewed.

The 2016 census result showed 30 per cent No Religion, and 60 per cent Religion. That’s hopelessly wrong. ABS and government know that! They have no qualms collecting “childhood” faiths from people who have long ago abandoned a family religion. They don’t practice it, and feel religion is not important to them. ABS here and here.

The “truth” is that 78 per cent of Australians want religion to be separated from politics. The July Essential Poll, commission by the National Secular Lobby shows the current public view of the ‘No Religion vs Religion’ split. It’s NOT the 2016 result of 30/60 – but in fact 52/41. A two-thirds rise in No Religion and a one-third drop in Religion. (No incongruity with the differential in ‘thirds’, you have to do the maths.)

Keep in mind that around 10 per cent are “other religions”, so Christianity right now is around just 30 per cent! And all the evidence comes from the 152-page Religiosity in Australia report. And when all respondents were asked if they “belonged” to a religion, 62 per cent said NO.” Read the Executive Summary (better, all 152 pages).

That report shows that for all religions the ‘truly’ committed people of faith total only around 15 per cent! Again, for the speed-readers – only 15 per cent committed to a religion! These are known colloquially as ‘Devouts’ (10 per cent) and the ‘Regulars’ (5 per cent).

So, in truth, Christians who have a full-on devout faith – mostly Pentecostals (like the PM, Scott Morrison) and other evangelicals – number just 10 per cent. A small base, with too much power to sway politicians. And that’s telling too. Academic Dr Andy Marks shows only 7.5 per cent of MPs claim “No Religion”. Why is it now blocked?

So, the earlier question was, “why is all this important?”.

Well, it’s more that important – it’s critical. The article “Corrupted census data on religion ‘gifts’ billions to Churches” says it all – backed up by hard evidence!

Think about this logically. Conservative prime ministers from Robert Menzies, John Howard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and now Scott Morrison – not to mention the ALP – have contributed greatly to the promotion of religion. They have all ignored the fact that religiosity in Australia, since 1911, has been in steady decline!

Be clear! This is not an attack on people having a faith; it’s about religious political influence and dishonesty.

Undeniably, religious political influence has steadily increased. In 2014 a full 40 per cent of kids attended private religious schools, up from near zero when PM Menzies first started to fund Catholic schools. In 2016 Catholic school funding was $12 billion, and public schools struggle for functional funding. It’s now education welfare!

Add to this the additional billions that the government ‘gifts’ to a variety or private religious businesses in hospitals, aged care and other public services – not including genuine charities! Concurrently, vital services in public schools and higher education, public hospitals, health and support, are basically welfare programs!

Just like the ‘sports rort’ and the ‘car parks’ rort before the last federal election, the multi-billion dollars funding of private religious businesses – all of which pay no tax – amounts to ‘spiritual pork-barreling’.

Peta Credlin, other right-wing media, conservative politicians, and religious hierarchies are absolutely wrong about secular Australians being “anti-religion.” People can believe exactly what they wish – even if it’s alien invasion, a flat Earth, or homeopathy.

But please, don’t weaponise your religion to rort billions of taxpayer funds, based on shonky census data – which starves vital funds from a vast array of public education and other services. It’s dishonest and un-Australian.

The secular majority – now armed with indisputable evidence of the ongoing rort, caused by a ‘loaded’ religious question – will launch its new campaign in 2022, when ABS call for submissions for Census 2026. The question must FINALLY be changed, to end this spiritual pork-barrel rort.

Brian Morris is a former Journalist and Public Relations professional and the author of Sacred to Secular, a critically acclaimed analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm that it does.

 

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13 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    The oppression of superstition, imperious fantasy, religion, organised bureaucracies, royalty, nobility, class restrictions, absurd vanity, lying deception, all the egofixated and domineering rubbish to assert oeself, by the devious and untrustworthy, has kept us down, those who desire the ultimate aim of a fair and open society. Now with new forms of itrusion and oppression by electronic menas, we must not let advantage go to social swindlers, who use religion to hoard, scrape, pile up money and power, tax free, often subsidised, all grossly evil.

  2. leefe

    It doesn’t help that Atheism is listed amongst some of the options in the ‘other’ line. Atheism is not a religion, it is the rejection of religion.

  3. BB

    Tuesday 10th. If you have no religion, you are not religious, do not believe in any religion, then mark NO RELIGION
    Doesn’t matter if you were born into a religious family or were christened or baptized as a child, whatever, bla bla bla
    If you do not believe in and have no religion then mark NO RELIGION, Do not be fooled into anything else!

    To clarify for all those who think of themselves as or identify as Atheist or Agnostic
    These two terms mean you have NO RELIGION, you are not a believer, you are Not Religious
    Some people think that being either atheist or agnostic means you are religious but don’t believe in “God”.
    This is 100% wrong and you are mistaken and/or being fooled, so wake up!

    Religions are a big scam. A huge con perpetuated upon humanity by mankind itself to control and keep people dumb.
    Just big business, and religions have caused more bloodshed than all the world wars through out recorded history.
    Religions impede free though and brainwash people from the cradle to the grave, so wake up and tick NO RELIGION

  4. ajogrady

    Religion is the advertising agency for a unproven and non existent product.
    For some, religion is the cloak they wear to disguise their evil and corrupt behaviour.
    Religion is the curse that stalks the gullible, the weak and the vulnerable in other words the poor that in turn are manipulated by the wealthy for for their own ends. Blind faith is responsible for the elimination of reason and logic from those afflicted with the belief in false promises whilst living in a fools paradise. It is fallacious by definition and a curse not a cure for what are mankind’s failings.
    Now,to rub salt into wound, religious entities that do not pay any tax have been caught out rorting JobKeeper. How ironic from those who profess to being good and rightuous.

  5. Josephus

    As a pastafarian I believe only in Her Noodleship.
    However I shall tick no religion.
    I ask the author to clarify the stated figures: do they refer to Christians alone or do they include practising Hindus, buddhists , Jews and moslems?

  6. Pingback: Opinion: Census must change to stop "Spiritual Pork-barrellling" | Plain Reason

  7. Win Jeavons

    I attend and support a christian church. We own no property- except a microphone and an urn, rent our premises and have weekday groups that meet in a coffee shop. Our parson takes no pay, and we shun religiosity. We are officially designated Methodist , though few are teetotal now ,but we sing ! And sing! Loners, folk with mental health problems find a caring space and during lockdowns we reach out to help and support each other. We don’t happy clap, we speak everyday English, and celebrate each others milestones – and we are GROWING.
    Are we religious- no! Do we have a faith in a life as expounded by an extraordinary man 2000 odd years ago – yes!
    We started up a foodshare organisation in our low income town, we support non religious appeals such as drought or fire ones and visit the housebound – except during lockdown, if other carers exist.
    How will l answer the religion question? I don’t fill standard slots, and strongly believe in separation of churches and state.

  8. !

    People of Faith who believe in an all knowing and all powerful God can’t possibly want the separation of Church and State. Either one really believes or one doesn’t.

  9. DrakeN

    Religions are the longest running and most successful confidence tricks ever imposed on humanity.

    Principally for the gaining and maintaining of power, wealth and priviledge.

  10. Jack sprat

    God is all knowing and all powerful but he/she is not very good with money, alway seems to run out and need more . Salvation has never come cheap cause god’s need for money has always been insatiable . So ante up if you want to enter those pearly gate cause the price of admission is expensive . One tenth of all your earnings will get you one of the cheaper seats way back in row xxx ,but the more you give the closer to god you will be.

  11. GL

    The magic sky fairy who lives in the sky created everything, so why would it continue to slavishly devote itself to one sand grain named Earth when there is an entire universe and untold billions of inhabited worlds to look after?

  12. BB

    Money money money. I love money, you love money, we all love money. Top Dog loves your money.
    So if you love Top Dog, you will give s/he her him it all of your money, and live your life in splendour.
    Well after you die that is, when you ascend on up to Holy Cloud Nine, and enter them Pearly Gates.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithe
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wealthiest_organizations
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_and_religion

    Just don’t mention poverty, to do so is being vulgar, and Top Dog doesn’t like people who are vulgar.
    For certainly vulgar people will be thrown into the fiery pits of hell and burn in damnation for eternity.

    LOL, nothing ever changes, the veneer of hypocrisy, double standards is alive and well.
    Selfish greed rules. It’s the Golden RuleThey that have the gold make the rules
    So welcome to our nightmare, entry is free, you don’t have to wake up, it’s daily reality.

    The sooner mankind does away with all religions the sooner all mankind will have enough to eat!

    Tick NO RELIGION in the 2021 census

  13. wam

    It is an unfortunate modern truth that you do not need facts or evidence to formulate an opinion. What you believe to be true is true. The synagogues, churches and mosques thrive on such truth and they will cheat, lie and kill to protect their truth from questions. Somehow we have to make freedom from religion not freedom for secrecy by open to question.
    My grandkids were in yarrawonga during the crisis cash splash by labor.
    We used to drive down to see them one or twice a year.
    After the crisis it seemed that every little town had a band new catholic school. In the same scrabble for rorting labor and christian school got a $m library by aggregating half a dozen schools, under ‘campus’, to reach the required number of students.
    There are1169 private education buckets in Australia, sucking on the tit of political religion. In my town catholic ‘we put faith in their education’ and lutheran feature high on TV advertising. These catholic church schools seek non-catholic students because, like the census, number are important.
    You have churches paying no taxes on their businesses yet investing in other businesses overseas when the cash they collect from us should be spent here.

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