NI Census, Atheist Count and Media Inconsistencies with Data Reporting

census 2011 logoThe 2011 Census data released today continued the growing trend of religiosity losing its majority populace throughout the UK. In Northern Ireland 16.86% of the population responded as having “no religion” or “did not state religion” whereas the response for “persons with no religion or religion not stated” in the 2001 census was 13.88% — this marks a small increase of an increase of 2.98%.

In England and Wales the number of people selecting “no religion” increased from 15% in 2001 to 25% in 2011.

The NI data reveals 48% of the resident population are either Protestant or brought up Protestant, a drop of 5% from the 2001 census.

However, the numbers show that 45% of the resident population are either Catholic or brought up Catholic, yet only 41% Catholic on census day.

  • 41% Catholic
  • 19% Presbyterian
  • 14% Church of Ireland
  • 5.8% other Christian or Christian-related denominations
  • 3% Methodist
  • 0.8% other religions and philosophies

Putting this with the figures for national identity — the first time this question has been asked — the overall statistics become much more interesting as well bringing a better understanding of the politics of people in Northern Ireland. Just 25% regard themselves as Irish only. This just shows there is not a definable correlation between religion and national identity/voting pattern.

According to the BBC

7% say they either belong to another religion or none

And the UTV reported this as

Just over 5% of people in Northern Ireland said they do not belong to any religion

Each news outlet is taking different data to be the correct response.
The BBC are giving the number of 6.75% of those who “who did not state religion” for Question 17 which asked “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?”. While UTV gave the number of those 5.59% of those who answered “none” to Question 18 which asked “What religion, religious denomination or body were you brought up in?”.

Neither of these take into consideration the 10.11% of people who answered “No Religion” under the same Question 17.

This inaccuracy of the data reporting is extremely important, and it’s a shame to see the media portray the numbers incorrectly. The numbers of those who have no religion are

Jill Farquhar states why this is important:

As politicians use the census statistics to form policy and allocate resources this type of misrepresentation is extremely significant. The use of data conflating religion with religious background produces an image of Northern Ireland which is significantly more religious and significantly less diverse than is actually the case. This reinforces the Catholic/Protestant binary and justifies the continued intrusion of religion into lawmaking in NI (see the restrictive abortion legislation for example).

More broadly, the conflation of ‘religion’ with ‘religious background’ perpetuates the idea that the religion of our parents defines our own religious identity and produces religion as something essential to the individual rather than something which can be changed, challenged and/or rejected.

For the purposes of the NI census, it seems, atheists really are ‘catholic atheists’ or ‘protestant atheists’.

Based on the data in English and Wales, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has calculated that if the change in Christianity shown between 2001 and 2011 continues, then Christians would be recorded as being in the minority from September 2018.

This is highly significant data as we watch rationality become the norm, yet there are still continued efforts to be done in education, particularly in Northern Ireland, which has seen a rise in Atheism and secularism, and indeed a growing progressive liberal community, however this has been much smaller than elsewhere in the UK.

Below is the data comparing the 2011 census data with that from 2001:

The Real Meaning of Easter Today; Family

When I was young I would get annoyed if I have at least 8 Easter Eggs. I feel horrible for being that way. I wasn’t the most pleasant of children at such events: the religious events in the year. Scoffing at presents from family, wanting a bigger Easter Egg, better selection box, more toys, more time to play, etc.
Where does Jesus come into this within a Christian household?
Thankfully I got very sick of this.

I mentioned to my mother that I wouldn’t be buying any Easter Eggs. She appeared to be the only one disheartened by the idea. Easter is not about lining the pockets of the corporate chocolate manufacturers (take that Cadbury’s/Nestlé!). And while the Pope and his cronies, all dressed in fancy attire, enjoy a mass, along with a few thousand others, many people here on Earth need to recognise the real reason we get together on such occasions.

It has always been a tradition in my family to go on some sort of family-orientated outing over this bank holiday weekend. This year, we took a walk through Tollymore Forest Park. Despite the rain, which stayed off for the majority of our 5.2km walk along the Red Trail (Rivers Trail), it was a fruitful and enjoyable exercise. Typo certainly enjoyed himself.

When we leave out the commercial crap that goes along with such times of year we realise that it isn’t about the presents, cards, chocolate or whatever else is being marketed to us in under the banner of religion: Do this to show you love a person. If you don’t buy X, Y, Z for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas you are a bad person. These events have meaning beyond religion and superficiality.

While Easter and Christmas are seen as times for Christians to reflect on their faith and relationship with God, the rest of us can use this as a time to reflect on our relationship with our family. And after all is said and done, who will pick up the phone first?

tollymore forest park
Dad, Typo and me, as taken by Chris

tollymore forest park

tollymore forest park

tollymore forest park

tollymore forest park

St Patrick’s Day 2012 — Part 1: Pro Cathedral

Remember the lovely story of how St Patrick was captured in Britain by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland? As the priest said during his sermon that this was a good thing, of course. After all, if he wasn’t captured, he would not have brought Christianity to Ireland. He also wore blue, not green. Modern day versions of traditions are strange. Today we associate St Patrick’s Day with drinking Guinness and rioting in the streets: the students in Belfast did it in 2009, the Dubliners did it in Temple Bar in 2010 and the Canadians are at it this year.

As for me, I still don’t enjoy the idea of a national drinking day. I am partial to a pint of Guinness, however. My St Patrick’s Day was perfect. Darren and I started the day in the Pro Cathedral, for 11.30am mass. It was a nice service, sadly the sound wasn’t great, though with a little straining we did hear the priest talk of spreading the word of faith and how non-believers will not reach heaven. Never mind that, afterwards we explored the beautiful church, filled brilliant deep reds and great architecture.

On leaving the church I understood why people do it, particularly on days like this one; overrun by superficiality and drunken debauchery. Spending an hour in the solace of your own thoughts, the serenity of the building, the community affair, the reverent, spirituality which fills the mind as one enters and leaves such a place has a way of preparing one for such a day ahead, and to have a remain with different mindset. To ignore the superficiality.

st patrick's day dublin

st patrick's day dublin

st patrick's day dublin

st patrick's day dublin

st patrick's day dublin

st patrick's day dublin

Why I Am Doing Lent

When I look around [the internet] this morning, many people are talking about Lent. There is a lot of cynicism around Lent: giving up Lent for Lent, doing it out of tradition, giving up fairy stories, myths and bullshit, deliberately eating and drinking more. Now this is all very well, and very funny, but it’s the very stuff I’ve been saying since I was 15. I never did like being told what to do and when to do it (see Valentine’s post below). This year, however, I am in a place where I am willing and able to change something for 46 days. And while I still do not like being told when and how to do things, I am simply being inspired by the cause of Lent to take this time to improve myself.

When I was young I used to attempt to give up chocolate, sugar, TV… I did it religiously. Just like many others. Then there are the people who give up sarcasm, Facebook, swearing, junk food etc. Are these real sacrifices? Lent, like much of the teachings of the Christian church, is based on goodness, humility, kindness, empathy, self-control; being true to yourself and neighbours, fasting, abstinence, discipline, living spiritually, to change the routine for a few weeks: this is what Lent is supposed to be about for Christians. And, like many aspects of Christianity, there is nothing wrong with any of this.

Giving up his time is exactly what Darren is doing, by going to Mass every day and embracing that aspect of this period of the Catholic calendar. He is doing it with an open mind; to spark debate, to learn, to listen and to discover what place the Catholic Church has in our society today.

Me? I’m aiming to give up some small things, yet no less difficult: giving up alcohol (which in turn should help me stay off the cigarettes as I’ve done mostly successfully the last 4 months), giving up coffee, eating out and generally live more frugally. These are things I have difficulty doing; unlike giving up heroin. But why? Because I don’t like to take things lightly, and do anything out of “tradition”. I aim to do things deliberately, out of passion and because I want to. I’m far from perfect, and this is just another time in which to perfect myself. By setting myself just another challenge. To discipline myself. For myself. Piggy-bagging of this Catholic/Christian calendar event, if you will.

Like Christmas today, there is very little of Jesus and the bible in many people’s interpretation: Jane Williams put it very eloquently in the Guardian: “…there is really no point at all in a Lenten discipline that isn’t about re-imagining the world so that it revolves less about our own desires and more about the good of all. When Lent ends, that vision of the world doesn’t.”

The true meaning of Lent? Curiously, Al Terry received death threats after posting this
on Twitter. Where’s the Christianity in that?

Belfast Pride 2011 – Hymn or Us

Last night was the much anticipated LGBT vs religion debate in the Europa as part of Belfast Pride week. On the panel was Rev. Chris Hudson of All Souls church, Pádraig Ó Tuama who works with Irish Peace Centres and Dr. Mike Davidson who works with Core Issues. Although Rev. David McIlveen, of Sandown Road Free Presbyterian Church, was to attend he was replaced at the last minute due to “an issue at church” by Mr. Dermot O’Callaghan, Lay Reader from the Church of Ireland.

I ask myself on a daily basis why there is a need to have a faith, let alone be a part of a church which is unrelenting in rejecting gay members. But then, why should this be when the Christian church, and the biblical word of Christ himself is that of love. There are many analogies that can be used to defend this issue, and many other instances the bible has been used to justify other forms of discrimination, such as slavery. So many Christians like to use the line “love the sinner, hate the sin” but as Pádraig Ó Tuama put it so eloquently, “I am being gay right now”. The matter of ‘identity’ versus ‘practice’ is wholly redundant, leading to asking why every other “sinner” is not thought of in that way when entering a church, or having a faith.

hymn or us belfast pride 2011 debate glyni

The very fact that Dermot O’Callaghan says that homosexuality is “morally in line with incest” is a disgusting offence and shows a great deal of ignorance, no different from asking any heterosexual why they do not consider their partner of the opposite sex to be like the love they have for their brother or sister.

I’m also really proud of my Father for standing up for voicing his own opinions and taking great offence at Mr O’Callaghan’s argument that being gay is as a result of nurture over nature, stating “I did not raise either of my sons to be gay, and if you were to ask the parents of any of those here, I don’t think any would have said they had”.

On the other hand I have great respect for Rev. Chris Hudson who promotes his “all inclusive” church, is willing to marry same-sex couples, if the law permits, and holds no prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

This is a debate which will is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, though the premise of which revolves around why some Christians cannot openly accept all who wish to join their congregations rather than persecuting them as Christians once were.

hymn or us belfast pride 2011 debate glyni

Congratulations goes out to GLYNI (Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland) for organising the event, to William Crawley who did another excellent job as facilitator, and to the those in the audience who, despite the contentious nature of the subjects discussed, were respectful and patient towards those with opposing views.

Christmas is the Disneyfication of Christianity

I’ve decided, after much consideration, I don’t like Christmas.

There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.

Oh I used to love Christmas, the presents were the best part, of course — as a child in this Western society I always had high hopes at this time of year and naturally they were never fulfilled as much as I would have liked, but still the house was awash with remnants of wrapping paper, bits of toys that had been left while I occupied myself with whatever new present had taken my fancy for those 5 minutes.

Mother would be upset at the fact that I got too many presents. Father would get upset with Mother.

As time passed presents became less than expected.
As more time passed presents were no longer an issue.
But still, arguments of some sort ensued. Naturally.

Everyone has their expectations. These days all I hope for is the hang out with my cousins, enjoy some drinks and have some good times. I don’t expect presents. I get some, not many, but some. Either way, I don’t have expectations for any.

The true meaning of Xmas is an imaginary man who sees everything you do and rewards you if you’re good all year. Just like Santa.

After weeks of shopping it all comes down to one day. One meal. One, or two (or three or four families). Alcohol, sweets, presents. The usual crap. But still ONE day.

Those who believe in the Christian God will profess that the day is in honour of the birth of Jesus/God. That may be the meaning of Christmas for some. it’s irrelevant. Celebrations in December pre-date all the Christian motives. Moreso: If you believe in the Christian God, and even if you don’t, you’ll be aware that they also profess the meaning to be about peace, love and goodwill to all men.” But they don’t have a monopoly on that. Each are great aspirations and hopes to have, a turkey dinner and selection boxes are necessary for that.

Praying for it, spending a lot of money and creating a host of traditions will not fix it either. Just like Christianity itself, the real meaning is unique to everyone. To me. It’s just a few days to chill out in front of some really shit T.V.

I’m not bitter. I’m just pissed off at the pressure to perform and the family breakdowns as a result of expectations not met. Not next year!

christmas day

christmas day

christmas day

Being Skeptical

All movements start with an idea, and many of these ideas start in a pub. Skeptics in the Pub is no exception. The idea came about over a pint in August between myself, Conor and Alana. I wasn’t quite aware of the movement at the time myself, but it certainly fit with my own points of view.

I’ve always been sceptical — cynical even, on many occasions — about all things from sensationalist and fear-mongering (see the Daily Mail’s contradictions) newspaper stories to things we do simply due to “tradition” . It started when I was a rebellious teen. Listening to Nu-Metal, Death metal and general alternative angsty tunes, smoking when I should have been at church and doing things my way. I’m not saying I wasn’t a dumb kid, I was, but I also tried thinking for myself. Today I still occasionally listen to Marilyn Manson (not so much the Death Metal and Nu-Metal), and still don’t go to church. The difference being my parents are fully aware of my non-church-going, and, although they wish it wasn’t the case, I stand by my “rebellion”.

stuff we know

I decided at around 15 that there was no mystical creature in the sky who we made in our image. This came through a general questioning and cynical attitude; that I want to live my way, not one dictated by various doctrines handed down through generations who’s beliefs principally stem back to the flat earth days. However, I will go into my non-religious clarity in more detail at later date.

As for everything else that encapsulates Skepticism, as I said, I’ve always done my research before leaping into anything (it just so happens that religion was forced on to me); drugs – alternative or otherwise ( is a useful site), tabloid newspapers are bullshit, conspiracy theories are interesting, but for the most part bullshit, alternative medicine is… well, diluted water.

There are no UFO’s — just stuff that hasn’t been explained, or that we don’t know to us. Similarly, when a friend saw some Chinese lanterns floating in the sky a couple of months ago she was convinced they were UFOs. I had no idea what they were. Another friend came out and told us exactly what they were. Mystery solved.

There are no ghosts. Mediums are con-artists. Telepathy is not real and Psychics are psycho (or just cold reading).

Praying and has never helped anyone and placebos are a wonderful. I’ve been known to enjoy a creamy, exotic, mellow, smooth, rich de-caff coffee. Even a non-alcoholic beer tastes good. I don’t do either very often.

There are those who are sceptical of Skeptics, those who find it to be quite negative. I’ve even had a conversation with someone recently who said that being a skeptical is to “belittle the opinions and beliefs of others” and “if you disrespect something somebody believes it is as good as disrespecting them”. In short, both of those statements are incorrect. Being sceptical is to question ideas and beliefs using doubt and inquiry where doubt is not the same as denial but the suspension of judgment, a position held until a claim can be assessed.

We all do it do different degrees; we question claims. But some hold on to ridiculous claims. Just because it is a widely held belief, or has been done for years doesn’t mean it works or is right. Question to learn. Don’t be satisfied without answers.

Our second Skeptics in the Pub event takes place this Saturday in The Front Page [map] from 5.30pm. We also have our first quest speaker, David Meade, local mindreader. David will explain his path to becoming a professional mindreader. He will chart the path that led him to believe in psychic ability and the subsequent experiences that made him realise that it was an addictive and intoxicating scam. He will read minds and recreate psychic phenomenon, while also revealing some of the techniques employed by fraudulent mediums.

He has a series beginning in the new year on BBC1, watch a trailer here.

godtube apology

I’m feelin’ a little weird doing this. It was hilariously funny. They sussed it out and sent a nice little apology.

Why am I doing this. Well just to follow up on the story. Maybe I should have just left it at that. But what the heck.

from    Clint Word <>
date     Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 10:36 PM
subject    GodTube Customer Care

Dear Members,

At GodTube, we take the responsibility of monitoring site content 24 hours a day very seriously.  We are the Christian site where you can feel assured you will find clean images and dialog.

We’ve been made aware that on March 4, you may have received an email that appeared to be from our Customer Care department.  If you did receive the email, we offer our apologies.  The subject line and content of the email was not GodTube sanctioned messaging nor does it fit within our standards.  We have taken appropriate measures to lesson future occurrences.

Your support is vital to our continued success and we always welcome your feedback.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Customer Care department.

The GodTube Team

Why am I am member? I really don’t know. But for this I’m glad I am.

merry christmas

So. It’s here. Christmas. You may be reading this on Christmas day. What are you doing on the Internet on Christmas day? Family sucks? Guess its the problem a lot of people have. Understandable. Boxing day? Again, why aren’t you opening all those boxes? Not believe in Christmas? Again, Family suck? It’s okay, I understand.

Yeah Christmas has come once again. It always comes quicker than expected. It’s really only in the last two or three years that I have begun to realise the real meaning of Christmas – though I can’t help but put a pause in that sentence and ask for a hands-up for all those who really celebrate Christmas today? Very few of you, I’m not entirely surprised. I’m not big fan of the real meaning behind Christmas, though I am a fan of the fact that family will always play a big part in the meaning of Christmas for me.

Though in this Christian country and time of Christian celebration I feel that it would be a good time to think of all those who will not get presents in this time of giving. Yes, lets take some time to reflect all those who will not be given gifts by their loved ones. Lets think about the non-Christians.

It’s a strange thing to think about, though having recently, be-friended someone of a non-Christian up-brining, it has made me think about those who don’t know of Christmas and the traditions that revolve around it. I have never known someone who didn’t know of Christmas and the ways in which it works. Simple things like Christmas Crackers – I was even asked what the meaning was behind them. I’m going to guess it’s just a part of the celebration, happiness and so forth – and probably of pagan origins.

I believe we should spend time reflecting on those who don’t have anything to celebrate on this Tuesday…

Well, in the last week or so there have been a few gigs, I had my last few days of work until this Friday, a whole week off work, and general partying. Having spent the the last three nights drinking, plus tonight if you include the wine I polished off.

On Thursday I made the decision to go to Gifted in the Empire. Starting promptly at 9:30pm, Geoff Gatt got the small crowd warmed up for what was to come, with a full band, so to speak; camel on lovely vocals and occasionally gazing lovingly into the eyes of Geoff as he sang songs likely to have been inspired by her. He was also joined by Bongo John on the bongos and Cully of the Delawares on bass guitar. This was I’m sure an attempt to create a fuller sound for the Empire’s large hall, though so early in the night and with so few punters through the door as would soon cross the threshold it wasn’t as well received as it one day will be, though none of that could possibly have taken away from the Geoff the great entertainer.

Cat Malojian, were next to the stage, hailing from Lurgan they have a brilliant sound which I have longed to hear since first seeing them perform in May of this year as part of the NIMIC CD launch in Custom House Square. They were great.

I hadn’t heard of Kryon and The Strangels before just a few weeks ago, though having listened to their Myspace tracks a few days before the gig I found myself singing along, which was nice, and doesn’t often happen. Check out the tune ‘Walking My Dog’!

The Delawares. Not to seem blasé about them. In fact not in the slightest. If I ever say ‘they were as good as ever,’ I mean that with the deepest respect and love. For I do love their music immensely, and each time they play I don’t understand why they are not bigger that they are. Well in a way I do, if analysed, maybe something to do with the fact that it’s not completely ‘mainstream’ music. But that is the idea. Their music is not mainstream at all. They never claim to put under that huge umbrella of ‘popular’ music. But someone please see the large audience, and potential audience they have!

On Friday Boathouse played at Common Grounds Café. They were superb as always.

Serpentine Smile also played, I’ve only managed to see them since beginning a few months ago. Paul’s song writing is great and the music that goes with it is enjoyable to listen to. He likes to keep busy with various projects, this one is an odd mix of guitar, vocals and drums, though you can’t go wrong with Bongo John’s drumming.

Saturday was spent at my own house, when the crew from Common Grounds, as I live with 2 current employees and one ex-employee, I guess it made perfect sense.

On Sunday I began my Christmas shopping. Went to a party. Left my phone there. Went to Auntie Annies for Cutaways, Panda Kopanda and Clone Quartet. Such a great lineup.

clone quartet

Soon it was Monday. Christmas Eve. Hard to believe. I woke up, hungover, and with less than 50% of my shopping complete, I had to get into to the city centre as quickly as possible. Within three hours of leaving the house, I was back again and chillin’ with two of my house-mates, with a beer in my hand.

I could finally relax. And here it is. It is Christmas Day. I hope you all have a great one!

12th july parades 2006

And so it’s that time of year again. It is indeed nearing the Twelfth of July; Marching Season is fully upon us. I am in no way politically minded. In fact, I fucking hate politics. But this is Northern Ireland/Ireland and it’s not going to go away too quickly. Although things are getting a hell of a lot better, and if I dare to say it, a little more peaceful, as I read somewhere recently, the trouble these days is mostly with the youth of the nation. The ignorant youths around this country who insist on trying to carry on something from their past generations when they know very little about how it all really is.

It’s all about the way you were brought up. I was brought up to be indifferent to it all, and I am very pleased about that. I was brought up with politics rarely spoken in the house. Although in some areas I know I am pretty ignorant, I am glad that I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. I just feel its about time we all just learn to get along. Of course it is easy to say. Point being, these days, there is a lot of diversity in this country. In many parts, people are learning to get along with each other. We just have to try getting through to the youths. It could take time…

Thankfully this week will be quite short, 3 days of work, 5 days off work. Yes, 5 days, ‘cos Sunday is my BIRTHDAY! I’m going to be twenty two! I’m not much looking forward to it. I feel it’s all downhill from here. Definitely no longer a child now. Nope, most certainly an adult. And its bloody scary. I don’t want to get old. I got ID’d going into a bar last Monday. It is a pain in the ass, and I did say to the bouncer as I handed him my ID, “You’ve ID’d me before, I’m 21, could you please remember!”, though I also like looking young. OK so it probably isn’t really anything to be that proud of. I should probably have a little more facial hair, maybe I shouldn’t have such a high-pitched laugh at times – but fuck it, I am comfortable in myself and I like my own immaturity, sometimes, and just don’t care. I don’t want to get older…

This weekend hasn’t been that exciting, not half as exciting as just about everyone one of the last weekends of the last few weeks, cos I know that my posts lately have included me saying somewhere how good my weekend was. Friday was spent drinking with some friends, though also in my own world (head) much of the time too. Saturday I spent with my family, as they are off to Florida for two weeks. I could say I’m jealous, but I’m not in the slightest ‘cos in 47 days, 23 hours, 16 minutes and 43 seconds I’m heading to the states myself for 3 whole weeks!

Well, this is possibly the most I have written here in while, and possibly the first time I’ve written anything slightly political, it won’t happen again, not for a while anyway. So here are the photos.

12th July Parades, Belfast 2006

12 july parades 2006

12th july parades belfast 2006

12th july parades belfast 2006

12th july parades belfasr 2006

12th july parades belfast 2006

12th july parades belfast 2006

12th july parades belfast 2006

Also, I updated my Myspace profile yesterday with a few of my favourite live photos. Check em out by going to my Myspace and clicking on my profile pic.

Don’t forget, I update my Flickr often with lots of new photos!

Favourite lyrics of late:

And start giving me something,
A love that is longer than a day
Rufus Wainwright – Movies of Myself

But why’d you have to break all my heart
I could have ripped apart and thrown into the river
Wonder if there’s hearts that will deliver
– Rufus Wainwright – 14th Street

I fell in love again
all things go, all things go
drove to Chicago
all things know, all things know
we sold our clothes to the state
I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I made a lot of mistakes
in my mind, in my mind
– Sufjan Stevens – Chigago