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A few months ago, I mentioned the launch of the British Humanist Association’s “Census Campaign” in Britain — they want people to check off “No Religion” on the 2011 Census for a number of reasons:

  1. It is important that the Census generates accurate figures. It is used to legitimise resource allocation and policy. The more people tick the ‘No Religion’ box, the less inaccurate ‘evidence’ there is that government should listen to religious groups and leaders over and above other groups within society.
  2. There will be no negative repercussions on you personally if you do. The Census is not interested in you personally- it is used to find general themes in the population. Although it is not anonymous, personal data will not be traced back to you in any analysis so there should be very limited issues about privacy.
  3. You will be affected by negative use of the data. Social policy, services and government action affects everyone.
  4. This may be the last Census ever held- if we get inaccurate data we may be stuck with it forever!
  5. An increased percentage of non-religious people will mean an increased voice for your issues as a non-religious person in society, particularly in equality work and education.

So far, only one ad slogan has been approved to appear on buses in the UK:

Sounds harmless. Funny, even. Not offensive in the least.

But other ads have been rejected

The reason given for this was that the advertising was of a “religious nature” and risks offending…

So what do rejected atheist ads look like? Take a look at the offenders: [***Update***: They were only rejected on the rail lines, but could be used elsewhere. This was due to the “For God’s Sake” phrase, but alternatives were also rejected.]

I’m still looking for the offensive parts. Anyone see them? Anyone?!

I guess telling the truth about what your religious beliefs are — or encouraging others to do the same — is “offensive” to the rail companies in the UK.

Ridiculous.

Despite the rejections, the Census Campaign is alive and well in Britain. And if it works, it’ll be very interesting to see the new data after the Religious-In-Name-Only people say they really have “No Religion.”