#CensusFail and #MyCensus – a Journey


With the Australian Census held last night, with online completion required for all who didn’t opt-into the paper version, everyone was expecting the whole thing to fail horribly, and they weren’t disappointed.

The system shut-down minutes away from our completion of our family data, and hasn’t been up again since.  There are varying reports coming through, with one claim that the site was shut down due to hacking attacks and other claims that the system simply failed and has terrible failsafes in place.  We’d been encouraged to use #MyCensus on Twitter, but #CensusFail was the tag trending on the night and ‘Computer says no’ was trending around the office today.

But putting all that aside, I want to talk about #MyCensus.

With censuses (censi?) held every five years, this was my eighth.  And they actually do map my life fairly well.

Here’s what #MyCensus has shown in terms of religious affiliation.

1976 – Catholic.  As a newly baptized Catholic, I’m assuming my parents would have ticked this box for me.

1981 – Catholic.  Nothing to see here.

1986 – Catholic.  More of the same, though I’d had my first holy communion by now.

1991 – Catholic (I think).  By 15, I’d stopped going to Mass, and didn’t consider myself religious, but in the Catholic mind, you can be a ‘non-practicing Catholic’, so I’m guessing this is what was checked.  I’d been baptized after all, and it didn’t much matter what you did after that…

1996 – Christian.  Having converted to evangelical Christianity in 1994, I was more connected to the label ‘Christian’ than to any denominational label.  I ‘happened’ to be Anglican, but would have readily changed that.  My loyalty was to Jesus, so ‘Christian’ it was.

2001 – Anglican.  By now I’d been re-baptised Anglican.  I know, I know.  I didn’t have to, since the Anglican church recognized my Catholic baptism, and getting dunked again left me open to charges of anabaptism and heresy.  But I didn’t want a meaningless ritual performed when I was an infant to be what I looked to, for something meaningful.  Full immersion for me because I liked the symbolism more.  And it was ‘Anglican’ now, because I wanted my numbers to bolster the Anglican brand, rather than the generic ‘Christian’ label.

2006 – Anglican.  By now I was an ordained Anglican Minister – so this label was a no brainer, really.

2011 – Anglican.  Nothing to see here (even if walls were already cracking badly at this point).

2016 – No religion.  And welcome to today.  This is my journey.  #MyCensus does mean something after all.  For the record, ‘No religion’ is almost certain to overtake Catholic for the top spot in this year’s Census.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia has been encouraging people not to put ‘Jedi Knight’ or ‘Pastafarian’, since those will be counted with ‘Religion – other’.  Both options have been increasingly popular in recent years, but we’ll see how the AFA’s appeal has gone when the results are released.

Now if only we could actually complete the form!

2 thoughts on “#CensusFail and #MyCensus – a Journey

  1. This year was my first “No religion” too. Ticking that box felt weird and scary and exciting and empowering. I’ve never associated any of these words with filling in a census before.


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