One in ten Irish now have no religion – more than all minority religions combined

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. 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.
Atheist Ireland

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Killian April 06, 2017

    Excellent point about how the question was phrased but I was also quite shocked at how the census was laid out when it came to religion.
    When I got to the religion section on mine, I couldnt see anywhere to put atheist, there was a list of religions then a comment box ( (cant remember what it was called but it was space to write in your option)so I wrote in Atheist, shortly afterward, i then noticed the other option below the comment/’other’ box. Granted I was in a hurry, was going abroad the next morning and had arranged for the census taker to come that evening but Ive never seen any form where the comment box is anywhere but last. At best this is piss poor design and I cannot think of a single reason that this option would be last and below a large comment section. To my mind it should be first or second if alphabetical order is used.
    Hopefully now that 10% are saying no religion then surely this must be changed for the next census to at least above the minority religions.