Pagans and the census (Vic Thomas)

Sunday 27th March will be Census Day in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As you all know, the census is conducted every 10 years to gather a broad range of information about people and households across the countries of the UK.

In 2001, the census included questions on religion, that made it possible, for the very first time, to prove that there were many thousands of Pagans in these islands. That we were, in fact, the seventh largest religion in Scotland and that our numbers were growing rapidly as other religions diminish. Census data on the number of Pagans proved to be of tremendous value in winning greater respect and recognition for Paganism.

This year, the census will again include a question on religion. And the Scottish Pagan Federation appeals to all Pagans in this country to enter “PAGAN” – in the “Another Religion” box provided.

The more of us we can prove there are, the more accepted Paganism shall be in the wider society and the fewer problems we will have with defamation and religious discrimination.

It is particularly important that as many of us as possible identify as Pagans in this census because it will almost certainly be the last time it will be conducted in its present form.

Even without the current public spending cuts, the growing cost of the exercise and the competing demands for different kinds of information make that more or less inevitable.

In the future, it will probably be much, much harder to obtain any accurate statistics on the number of Pagans, or any other demographic statistics, so we really need to make what impact we can now.

If you value Paganism, please identify as PAGAN in this year’s national census.

Vic Thomas


Add Your Comment
  • Alisha Adrian

    • March 17th, 2011 13:58

    Good for you to have a way to help identify how many pagans are there! I wish that we could do that over here. There are so many of us yet we are always treated as fringe.

  • Stuart Fox

    • March 17th, 2011 14:02

    Equally as important is that as many of us who harbour no religious belief whatsoever, should enter ‘No Religion’ – in the ‘Another Religion’ box provided. Think carefully before you act, you may have been born into a particular religious belief system, but if you do not currently practice that belief then you should seriously consider selecting this option.

    The more of us we can prove there are, the more accepted our views shall be in the wider society and the fewer problems we will have with defamation and religious discrimination.

  • Robin Barclay

    • March 17th, 2011 14:58

    What does Vic Thomas mean by “pagan”? My many liberal Catholic friends can use it (pejoratively, but in jest) to refer to the unbaptised. In that context, might we use gentile or infidel – or atheist or agnostic – depending on what we are NOT, as we see it? Does he mean neo-pagan, as in Wiccan or Druid – that recently invented interpretation (without continuous tradition or contemporaneous documentation) of pre-christian European beliefs, some very local. A mindset is not a faith, not when you consider those you know well who profess a faith, whatever that faith is. I think “pagan” is too ill-defined and open to interpretation for use here. You may define yourself as a “pagan”, you may even belong to a group who call themselves pagans, but what would others interpret by that term? Since pagans may well believe in something supernatural, else why not just go for “atheist”, why would “agnostic” not do? I do not intend to be dogmatic here, merely curious.

  • Maureen Bell

    • March 17th, 2011 15:14

    I am sure that many responding as Pagan really mean they have no religious belief. To be a Pagan has a totally different meaning!

  • mrs.C. Donald

    • March 17th, 2011 19:29

    Pagan is of no religious belief no matter how colourful it is publicly painted and is a personal decision on the census form. It is not for anyone else to instruct or decide what should be entered like a local censor advisor on behalf of a society.
    Just fill in the form for goodness sake.

    Christine Donald

  • Ted Knight

    • March 18th, 2011 11:03

    Noting that the Vikings displayed pagan propensities, it would seem that these guys (and now, gals!) never went away from 60 degrees north. Indeed, rumour has it that they carry out their blue collar duities for SIC until mid-winter, then don ridiculous fancy-dress etc and parade about Shetland like the misguided fools they are.

    Never let factual history get in the way of a forty-eight hours binge, eh?


  • Colin Hunter

    • March 29th, 2011 19:20

    It amazes me that someone who appears to be as “Anti Shetland” as mr Ted Knight should have decided to settle here in the first place. If he does some research he will find that some quite high “White collar” SIC officials also take part in the annual extraviganza which is “Up Helly Aa”. Indeed, our MSP Tavish Scott has also been known to participate. It is not merely a booze up for the great unwashed as he seems to suggest. I am a Shetlander and I will admit to never having taken part in Up Helly Aa in my life. That is my choice. It is also the choice of the many who do participate to do so as they see fit. Also, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been any claim that any events portrayed are actually based on historical fact, with the exception of some of the more “tongue in cheek” acts and sketches that is!

  • Ted Knight

    • March 30th, 2011 10:45

    “…..with the exception of some of the more tongue in cheek.acts and sketches that is”….mmm?

    Incidentally, Mister Hunter, it isn’t so much as being “aniti Shetland”, more like anti spurious history – if you don’t mind me having an adult opinion. If you doubt me, visit your excellent Library Archive and seek the views of experts on Shetland’s Viking history in the context of your UP HELLY Aa nonsense.

    And, as for your gushing explanation about “quite high white collar SIC officials” and your MSP Tavish Scott’s participation in a travesty of historical fact; well, as they say…….. whatever turns you on.


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