UK Census

Published March 22nd, 2011 by Bobby Henderson


I’ve heard from several UK Pastafarians that it’s Census time in Britain.  In 2001 there was a movement to make “Jedi” a recognized religion by the government.  It would be fantastic if Pastafarianism could gain similar recognition.

So, UK Pastafarians, on your 2011 Census, if you are a Believer, write Pastafarian as your religion.


I’ve gotten a lot of emails about this and I see a lot of comments saying the same thing – there is a feeling by many that it is important to put “No Religion” on this year’s census form, and the British Humanist Association makes a pretty strong argument for this.

If you say you’re religious on the census and don’t really mean it, then you are treated by some sections of the media, churches, and even government policymakers as if you are a fully-fledged believer.

While there are many True Believer Pastafarians, a large number of us could be described as not literally believing our own scripture. That’s not all that unusual in religion (many Christians don’t take the Bible literally) but that we are honest about our own reservations *is* unusual (and an important part of our religion). I often hear this brought up in arguments why Pastafarianism is not a “real” religion. My feeling is that defining religion is always done with some agenda and we’re best off not fitting into anyone’s small-minded definitions. But this problem remains – there are a huge number of people who get something positive out of Pastafarianism without literally believing the scripture. This census question, when asking people to define themselves in such simple terms, can’t fully capture a person’s view of a very complex subject.

If I was a UK citizen I would find this a difficult choice. Good luck!

78 Responses to “UK Census”

  1. painstick says:

    This is one of the best Tweets I saw in regard to the census question about religion.

    “ADD YOUR religion as ‘Jedi’ on Census to ensure in 100 years time your descendants know for sure you were a sad bell end.”

    That also goes for answering anything other than the truth (hopefully ‘No Religion’).

  2. Mike says:

    As I was filling out my form, I was touched buy His Noodly Appendage and I knew what I had to do! Got yourself a convert here mate!

  3. Fussilier says:

    Done :)

  4. ChristopherTK says:

    I disagree with passing up an opportunity to represent your fellow non-theists but I admit that checking a box highlighting a “mocking” religion does get more press.

  5. xy says:

    With regards to listing “other” religions which are not already established as religious intitutions, here are some useful links to assist in decision making:

    At the end of the first post on the following page is a letter from the ABS (Australia) that outlines how chosing “Jedi” as religion won’t make it a religion (common misconception!).

    From the ABS site (http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3110124.NSF/0/86429d11c45d4e73ca256a400006af80?OpenDocument)
    “Answers such as Jedi and others which have not to this point in time been identified as a religion in the classification will be coded to the one category”not defined”, which is the label to be used in standard census output reports.”

    Whilst putting down “Pastafarian” is great, it ignores the base issue of the whole movement; that being, the focus on religion in areas of service provision (e.g. school science classes) where there shouldn’t be one. The Census is used by Governments to allocate funding and make decisions about services – if the religion question is used to record protest religions then there is a risk that this decision-making will be factoring in religion to a greater extent than it should. Furthermore, if an organisation wants to use the Census information to assist an argument against a decision that places too much emphasis on religion, they will only be able to use the ‘no religion’ figure, not the ‘not defined’ – so although ‘not defined’ is still drawing away from the standard religious answers, it is not going to be of assistance in counter-arguments.

    Whilst everyone has a right to their own religion, government spending should reflect truth, not misconceptions.

    Also, for Australians: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=158738187517358 (Say “no religion” on the 2001 Census)

    For the record, I identify as pastafarian, but I will still be selecting “no religion” in the census. I am sure He will understand :D

  6. Jason says:

    Sorry people, I am a proud Pastafarian. I use humour and piss-taking to take on religious dogma. “No religion” implies you don’t really care.

    I put Pastafarian down on the online version… no chance of it being misread.

    • painstick says:

      Choosing not to answer the question implies you don’t care. Answering ‘No religion’ means you know your own min and are on the side of rational thought. Just answer the truth or don’t answer at all.

      • painstick says:

        “know your own mind” that should read.

        • Jason says:

          I do know my own mind, hence putting down Pastafarian. How do you putting down “no religion” to knowing your own mind?

  7. Gordon_UK says:

    Just to clear the ‘Jedi’ thing up from the 2001 census all the ONS did with the respondents who gave ‘Jedi’ as their religion was to group them with the ‘no religious’ responses, so putting Jedi was not much of an issue. The problem with putting Pastafarianism is that it would be read as Rastafarianism by the scanner that reads the forms and if it was completed on-line it would assume that it was a typo and would end up being grouped with 5,000 other Rastafarian recorded last time under ‘Any other religion’.

    The real issue is the wording of the question, people are treating in the same vain as the ethnic group question where people make a assumption that it’s to do with the history of your family rather then what you are. For example after the last census when people where question they admitted putting Christian purely because they are of Christian heritage despite being non religious. .

    • Jason says:

      Considering you can do the census online, there is no chance of Pastafarian being read as Rastafarian.

      • Keith says:

        Even if you put “Pastafarian” or some other reply and the census concludes that you “have a religion” I fail to see how that can be used to justify more funding for moslem mosques, christian churches, buddhist temples etc when the reply quite clearly indicates that you do not belong to any mainstream religion.
        One would have to conclude on the basis of such a response that the pollies are either incredibly single minded, incredibly corrupt or incredibly stupid…oh, wait! they are! Ok, I concede defeat.

      • Gordon_UK says:

        Hi Jason

        ONS have to take in to account that people will spell things incorrectly so to ensure the quality of the data produced some of the fields are spell checked, this is done within the database rather then at the point of data input. So it will let you put in Pastafarian on-line but when the data is added to the database it will be ‘corrected’ to Rastafarian.

        Sorry this is quite important as survey after survey that asks this question correctly gets the non religious as at >50% where the census tends to get 15% (including Jedi).


        • Jason says:

          I’ve just emailed them and told them:


          There has been some internet debate over the “religion” field. Please do not mistake “Pastafarian” for Rastafarian.
          Pastafarians have atheistic tendencies and use humour and mocking to combat religion.


  8. Ben says:

    Found The C of FSM through the mention in Richard Dawkins’ great book ‘The God Delusion’. I am at school and this has started a large group of believers. I have persuaded maybe 10 people to put down Pastafarian as their religion, and there might be more that I do not know of. I hope this religion gets recognised right after the Census!

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