The British Humanist Association (BHE) has a campaign to get people to accurately record their religious beliefs on Sunday’s census.
They argue – and it’s pretty persuasive – that many people record themselves as religious out of habit, or because they were brought up in a particular religion, without actually worshipping or even believing. I remember as a child when I joined Guides, my mom was asked what religion they should record me under. Rather than saying we weren’t religious, she said ‘CofE’. Telling the truth would have meant I couldn’t take part in some of the activities, like the Guide promise, which includes a promise to God. It was just easier to say Church of England.
It’s pretty harmless in that example, but the BHA argues that census figures are used for things like supporting government policy. This means that if you tick a religious affiliation when you aren’t religious, you could potentially be taken as a full believer and those figures could be used to support policies such as increasing the number of faith schools.