Census 2021 and the Religion Quandary

During the last census in 2011 there was a strong initiative to present the pagan paths as a recognisable collection of valid spiritual paths, with the dominant drive being “pagan dash”. In this the idea was to identify one’s path as pagan and something more descriptive. Perhaps pagan-Wiccan or pagan-Heathen or, as I did, pagan-Druid. In the post-Census months, members of the pagan community asked the Office of National Statistics to produce analyses that counted the numbers relating to each individual pagan path.

This year another strong initiative calls for unity. Instead of producing a list of path names each with a few adherents, we might consider all simply putting Pagan. The result might be a significant enough number for the powers that be to seek new and stronger relationships with the pagan community, to take pagan interests into account when making new law (such as the ongoing review into marriage law), and to improve our reputation in the the scurilous depths of the UK media.

The census date this year is the 21st – Spring Equinox – and I’ve logged in early to take a look at the questions. I’ve not submitted my completed census – that would be premature and potentially illegal – but I have worked through the questions.

So, when I got to the question about religion (having passed all the questions about sex, and gender identity (different quiestions) and how I viewed my sexuality and relationships) I tested the potential answers. Some responses were highlighted… pagan, for example, was a choice as soon as p..a..g.. was entered. From a few keystrokes I found a few path names that were ‘acceptable’ (my wording) and some that were not in the list of suggestions.

In the list of suggestions were:
Druid
Pagan
Pantheist
Wiccan
Not in the list of suggestions were:
Asatru
Heathen
Odinist
Witch

This leaves us with a quandary. Given, any free text response will be collected and retained. But what does the pagan Druid do? More, what does the Heathen do? I don’t know how the list was constructed, but it would seem inevitable that people will try and put their own path name in before settling on paganm – if they decide to.

It was however a lot easier with the national identity question…

5 thoughts on “Census 2021 and the Religion Quandary

  1. my understanding of heathenry is that basically it covers the ground of scandinavian or norse paganism, with an emphasis on community, family and the ancestors with honouring of the land wights rather than the gods themselves although that can certainly be a part of it, heathenry can be used as an umbrella term with some broadness. asatru by contrast means honouring the aesir gods, odinist i think is mainly to do with odin although i have also heard of this term being used in connection with folkist, white supremacist groups so i was a little surprised to see it being used here

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  2. P. S. It’s not illegal to submit your Census return early as long as you know who will be in your household on 21 March…and you change your responses later anyway. I submitted mine a couple of days ago.

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