Keep it to yourself

By May 12, 2021Society

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) hour-long current affairs panel show, The Drum, a discussion commenced at 48.05 which talked about research that indicated some 40% of “Australians of faith feel that they need to hide their religious beliefs in some way” and were “anxious that they might be judged or misunderstood”. This result was said to be based on a survey of only 1000 people1, so it is difficult to be certain how accurate it is. For comparison, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamic in Australia (HILDA) survey conducted by the University of Melbourne has a sample size about 17,000. However, the survey mentioned on The Drum was conducted by Mainstreet Insights, a cooperative effort from Reventure and McCrindle. You may have heard of Mark McCrindle before, as he was the subject of an episode of the ABC’s Media Watch in October 2011. As Mediawatch said: McCrindle Research is “an outfit that’s given rise to literally hundreds of stories for the Australian mainstream media – mostly those frothy, what-are-we-really-like yarns that the media – and presumably therefore, media consumers like you and me – adore”. In this report, it was stated that while he stated he did surveys of 1,000 people, in one case, as few as 12% (118) responded to the survey2. While any doubt about the quality of the survey does not seem to have entered the consciousness of those preparing topics for discussion on The Drum, it doesn’t surprise me that the religious are getting a bit nervous about reactions to public expressions of their religiosity. 

Ironically, this discussion began after one which was partly about the bombing of the girls’ school in Afghanistan1. Whether the Taliban committed this is unclear (they have denied responsibility), but that group believes that girls should not be educated. That is apparently a religious belief. I could never respect such a belief, however lacking in murderous intent the believers were. Similarly, a belief that women who have been raped and have become pregnant because of it, should be forced to have the child, or a belief that homosexuality is an abomination, or a belief that people should be made to suffer and never be allowed voluntary assisted dying, or that atheists are immoral, are beliefs that are not worthy of respect. Indeed, they are only worthy of disgust or ridicule.

For many, many hundreds of years, many religious people and their church hierarchies have demanded that they be respected for their ‘faith’ as if that is something of which to be proud. Those days are now coming to an end because religion is declining all around the world3-5. Many of the religious find this hard to cope with, as it is something they have never experienced before. They are heading for equality and it freaks them out. In the not too distant future, having a religious belief will be just as worthy of respect as being a member of a particular football club.





    Religion is an insult to human dignity and faith is the excuse people give when they don’t have a reason. If they had a reason then they would not need faith.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    The poll found that 40% of “Australians of faith feel that they need to hide their religious beliefs in some way.” I very rarely discuss my lack of religious belief with anyone except my nearest and dearest. Other people I know who are also not religious mainly do not go around announcing this view to anybody and everybody they come across. Conversely there are also many people who I am related to, or know, who are more than willing to discuss their religious views openly, and smugly, with anyone, anywhere. From my survey I have concluded that nearly all non religious people are generally inclined to not not discuss religion with anyone unless they know for sure the person they are talking to is of like mind. Furthermore my survey has determined that nearly all religious people like to let everyone know, and in particular those who are not religious, about how good and religious they are. What this suggests to me is that while 40% of the religious are hiding it in some way that hiding is not great and as for the other 60% well they just can’t stop shoving it down everyone else’s throats.

    • admin says:

      Like you, I only volunteer the information (that I am an atheist) if it is relevant to the topic being discussed, or if I am asked. Being an atheist is not a calling or a religion or a lifestyle; it is just an absence of a belief in something. It is just like my absence of a belief in black cats being bad luck; it impinges on my life not a jot. I think the reason that some religious people volunteer that they have a belief, is because they live in the past, where such volunteering would be accompanied by a certain degree of reverence. No more.

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