So this probably marks the first post I make any mention of religion. I also happen to be writing about the Census.

No More Need For Jedi

Last time there was a Census in New Zealand, there was no option to represent “No Religion”. With this in mind, what were non-religious people to do?

What a lot of non-religious people seemed to think was a good idea was to write down their religion as an unknown alternative: “Jedi”. Short of weilding lightsabres, the idea was to (force-)push the known religions’ numbers down. However, this still didn’t deal with the overarching problem: There was still no meaningful way of opting-out of being a religious statistic.

Thankfully this time around Statistics New Zealand has wisened up to the ever-growing number of atheists and agnostics, and have put into the census a “No Religion” option.

This is a much better option than choosing the path of the Jedi.

Think about it

If you put down “Jedi”, your statistic still counts as being religious, but doesn’t get attributed to anything as it is not a recognised religion. If you put down “No Religion”, your statistic actually matters as a representation of the country’s non-religious demographic.

If, however, you are in fact religious, do put down your actual religion.

Other areas

There are other parts of the census that people are angry or confused or generally turning their heads at odd angles upon reading. One of the top examples of such questions attains to the subject of women’s fertility. If you are physically male, you (obviously) skip this question entirely. If you are physically female, there is an opt-out option, which amounts to “I do not wish to disclose this information”. Generally speaking, if there is a possible privacy concern over any of the questions, an opt-out option is available.

Silly Libertarianz

Opting out of providing this information on the form (or online), but still submitting the census, is (in my mind) a much better option than burning, tearing or otherwise destroying your forms, and not submitting any information at all. This is what Libertarianz is suggesting, and in my mind is a ridiculous notion. Their issues seem to me to be surrounding personal privacy, as of course their aim is to make government’s reach as small as possible. But in my mind, Libertarianz’ protesting of the Census’ legitimate information collection is a drastic action. Having filled out the form myself, I did not find it at all that intrusive.

Tin-hat Time

All that said, however, one should always be cautious around how much information the government has on you. With an eye on technology and technological warfare, we’re coming up to a time when any data, sent anywhere, could feasibly be tracked back and tied to us as people. With the United States becoming more and more of a Military-controlled or Nanny- state, there could be dire consequences should anybody flying over their airspace to have previously indulged in (legal!) pornography while having a search for baby names in another tab.

In my personal view, all the government should need to know of me is my Name, Date of Birth, Gender, Place of Residence (if inside that government’s country), and maybe occupation. There’s only one piece of information on that short list that shouldn’t be public knowledge. And while it’s not personally endangering to me, I have no qualms in the government knowing my Religious stance and that as a male, I’m probably not capable of giving birth any time soon.

Government Serves the People

It is probably a good idea to note that the government is an body of people that are meant to represent the general public. If you feel you are not being rightfully served by your government, you should write to your local representative on the matter. If that doesn’t work, peaceful protest is perfectly viable. Breaking the law to address failure in that law should only be used in more dire circumstances (a la Martin Luther King).

TL;DR

  • You are not a Jedi.
  • If you’re not religious, I recommend you select the “No Religion” option.
  • Please do not destroy or ignore your Census form
  • Be mindful of the government you are served by