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The question ticks a box

The following letter was published in The Age on 20 July 2021

The question on religion in the Australian census is not designed to measure how religious people are, whether they hold religious beliefs, are members of religious organisations or attend religious services (“Census time to mark ‘No Religion’”, Comment, 16/7).

Instead, it is a measure of religious identification, an important cultural marker, which in sociological research has been shown to be a very powerful predictor of many other attributes and behaviours.

It is for this reason that the Australian Bureau of Statistics and sociologists of religion like ourselves, experienced in working with census data, support the continued inclusion of the question in the census in its current form. We encourage people from a religious tradition not to overlook or exclude this important dimension of their identity when they are completing their census form.

Professor Gary Bouma, Monash University
Dr Robert Dixon, University of Divinity
Professor Philip Hughes, Alphacrucis College
Professor Andrew Singleton, Deakin University
Dr Michael Mason

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