In 2011 there is to be a Census in the UK. It’s time for Pagans of ALL paths to be counted.
In 2001 we were able for the first time, to write in our religious affiliation on the Census form. A campaign was started by a number of diverse groups to write Pagan in the ‘religion other’ section. Whilst in the main people did, we lost the individual path identity and some resented this. Furthermore, due to the way the Office of National Statistics counts religious affiliation responses, Pagans ended up having our number diluted across a number of categories. Even though many wrote Pagan, the campaign didn’t reach all Pagans. This means that every time we are asked the question ‘how many of you are there?’ we cannot come back with a simple answer.
This doesn’t need to happen!
The ONS wants to count us. They have a ‘mandate of inclusion’ which means they are looking for ways to include us in their figures. Looking at the raw data that was provided last time to us gave us some startling insights. However, as mentioned, by just writing Pagan on your form, we lose the data for various paths, and our diversity — but there is a simple solution — one that’s worked elsewhere.
In Australia in 2001 there were 10,000 Pagans in the census. Just 5 years later, with this initiative, their numbers are being counted as nearer 70,000. So if we can do the same here, and get more accurate numbers it will go a long way to getting the recognition we have fought for, and deserve.
All you need to do is put down your religion as:
Pagan — [insert your chosen path]
Pagan — Druid
Pagan — Wiccan
Pagan — Witch
Pagan — Heathen
Pagan — Neo-Shaman
Why do we need to ‘Stand up and be counted?’
For too long we have known that there are significant numbers of people who identify as Pagan. The estimates have been from 20,000 to 140,000 or more. But we’ve never had any really accurate figures for a number of historical reasons. We now have the chance to know just how many of us are there. Why do we need to know?
In the 2001 census some 30,000 people wrote Pagan. An additional 10,000 Pagans wrote their path specifically (Druid, Wiccan, witch etc.). Combined, this made us the 7th largest faith in the UK. While this number is significant, in the course of speaking to Pagans at various moots, events etc, we found there were approximately only 1 in 5 who had expressed their beliefs. This leaves a significant number not accounted for, or even counted. As a further problem the Heathens were originally counted with the Atheists in the results — which did not please them one bit!
If the Office of National Statistics has our true numbers:
We can then be officially recognized as a serious religious choice,
The government can see that we vote and there are enough of us to make a difference,
Pagan organizations can show they are representative,
We can achieve more representation within the local and wider community,
Pagan organizations will have credibility when dealing with both businesses and the government to provide the services you need.
This means it will be easier for us to be heard, our religious / spiritual sensitivities taken into account - and especially at those times when it is really important - in hospitals and hospices, for our children in schools, in the military and police and other places of work, in courts and prisons, when dealing with social workers and health visitors, at times when we face prejudice and discrimination.
So, what can you do to help?
- Tell your friends!
- Get your Pagan organization involved
- Bring it up at your next moot
- Put a link on your website to PaganDash
- Give us your ideas about how to get the word out
Friday, 12 March 2010
Pagan census initiative
A group called Pagan Dash has set up a website to encourage people to state that they are Pagan on the 2011 census form.