Atheist Ireland held a successful campaign encouraging people with no religion to say so in the census. We welcome the following preliminary results from the census:
- One in ten Irish people (468,400) have no religion. That’s a 73% rise from 2011, which is the highest rise of any category.
- More people have no religion (468,400) than members of all minority religions combined (439,000).
- Another 125,300 people declined to answer the religion question. That’s another 3.8%. Some of the ‘not stated’ may be religious, but certainly not all of them. So the actual figure for No Religion, whatever it is, is over 10%.
- The number of Catholics has declined both in percentage terms (-3.4%) and in real terms (-132,000 people).
- In Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire and Galway, more than one in three of the population is non-Catholic.
However, we believe that these figures still greatly overestimate the strength of religion, and particularly Catholicism, in Ireland.
- They are based on a flawed census question, that asked ‘What is your religion?’ This assumes that you have a religion. Studies have shown that more people say they have a religion when asked this, than do when asked ‘Are you religious?’ or ‘Do you have a religion?’
- Census forms are frequently filled in by a parent, who may fill in a religion for other family members who are not in fact religious.
- The evidence of day to day life, including Church attendance, indicates that far more than one in ten Irish people are not religious.
One in ten Irish now have no religion – more than all minority religions combined