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. Ben says:

    Please note anyone doing the Census online: there is not enough room to write ‘Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’. Just write ‘Pastafarian’.

    • Pam I says:

      There’s limited space for a long description. Like others I thought Pastafarian would be read as Rastafarian. I ended up with Flying SpaghettiMn . They will have to total that up somewhere and I just hope that those doing the analysis will eventually get it.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    I’m putting “Flying Spaghetti Monsterist” rather than Pastafarian.

    Having known people who worked the last census, I can see the risk of tired overworked census counters misreading Pastafarian and mixing us up with the followers of Ras Tafari. Might not be so much of a problem if you fill in the online version but I’m doing the paper version where there is more room for error.

    Was debating whether to just put “none of your damn business” as an alternative…

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  4. vespacat says:

    UK person here.

    Re: Jedi appearing in last census. Writing that did NOT give (or could it have given) any ‘official’ status to that as a religion. It meant nothing more than lots of people writing Jedi as a p*$$take. It started off as a campaign to get ‘official recognition’ of being a Jedi as a relgion, but it was made very clear at the time that this was NOT what the census was about and it would NOT have that effect. And it didn’t.

    The UK is NOT a theocracy. Our lawmakers consist of people of many differing religions (Muslims, Jews, Catholics.. as well as CofE etc., etc) and no religion at all. CofE being the ‘established’ religion refers to history, going back to the time of Henry VIII and his arguing with the pope, which resulted in Henry having a fit of pique in which there was the dissolution of the monastaries, the breakaway from Catholicism, and Henry creating the CofE, with him, the monarch of England, becoming the head of the church. The practical effect to this day is that the monarch remains the head of the CofE (hence the term ‘established church’ as it’s the church of the establishment; the ‘official’ religion where the monarch is the head ) and no monarch can marry a Catholic. Mind you, I’m sure that if the various crowns the monarch has to wear were replaced by a golden, jewel-encrusted, representation of His Noodliness, the monarchy would be all the better for it…

    The state is NOT under the control of the church. Indeed there have been recent cases where people have tried to get out of adhering to the law of the land due to their religious beliefs and the courts have found against them. Examples: owners of a guest house tried to discriminate against a homosexual couple, and a couple were refused being foster parents as their religious beliefs were homophobic. In both cases, the people trying to justify their homophobia on grounds of their religious beliefs (Christianity) were ruled against by the courts. Our law-makers have, as example, made same-sex relationships legal, with the introduction of civil partnerships. If we lived in a theocracy, I seriously doubt that would have happened. Certainly many a religious group campaigned against that, but they failed (Hurrah!).

    There is NO CHANCE of Pastafarianism being ‘offically recognised’ as a religion in any way, shape or form by the numbers of people who write Pastafarian on their census form. That’s not what the census does. The census simply counts numbers and responses. It doesn’t create ‘official’ religions. It will be seen only for what it is: a joke, a p*$$take… And I’m fairly certain our Noodly Master has a fabulous sense of humour :)

    • Dave says:

      amusingly it would’ve worked had it not garned so much media attention, the original rules stated that if a certain number of people (50,000 i think) put a certain religion down it would be recognised as official, however after the mass campaign and all the media stories, government clued up to what was going on and then changed the rules, it failed through nothing more than its own success, unfortunately this also means that Pastafarianism will never be recognised as an official religion in England unless someone/some group started lobbying parliment for it and they would then have to prove it wasn’t simply athesim with a sense of humour

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  7. sky lukewarmer says:

    I sat with the census form before me and seriously pondered my response to the religion question,having been a pastafarian since 2007, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to register my interest in FSM however, when it came to it I had to put no religion as my atheism is more important to me so I’ve learned something about myself.

  8. Pastacurry says:

    @vespacat I would check the list of allowed abbreviations on the census website pal – church of FSM is listed and therefore ratified. Jedi, however, is not. http://help.census.gov.uk/england/help/help-and-information/SupplementaryMaterials/Religionabbreviations.html

    • Rev Toni Rigatoni says:

      So is the Church of the Invisible pink Unicorn, how cool is that?

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