Reacting to Irish census figures that show a drop of just 3.4 percent of people claiming to be Catholic, Humanist Society of Ireland’s spokesperson Brian Whiteside, above, this week expressed his scepticism over the figure.
In this report, Whiteside said:
It seems odd that the number of Catholics has only declined by 3.4 percent. The evidence on the ground, that is, the meagre numbers entering the priesthood, and the massive decline in church attendance would suggest that, while many identify as being Catholic, few actually practice the religion on any regular basis.
The figures seem to overestimate the strength of established religions in the country.
Whiteside said the latest figures show that one in ten people in Ireland have no religion.
Quite clearly the number of citizens who identify as having no religion is sharply increasing as the number of Catholics and Protestants decreases.
Those with no religion almost doubled from 269,800 to 468,400 and the number of Catholics in Ireland dropped by 132,200 from 3,861,300 to 3,729,100.
The association ran campaign in the lead-up to Census 2016 urging people mark “No Religion” on the census form if they did not practise a religion.
Another interesting statistic is the fact that 125,300 people declined to answer the religion question at all so the increase in those with ‘no religion’ maybe even higher.
Overall, the census indicated that there has been a 73.6 percent increase in the number of Irish people with no religion. 468,400 Irish people claimed no religion in the 2016 survey – a rise of 269,800 since the 2011 census. The “nones” now comprises 9.8 percent of the Irish population, the second largest group in the religion category behind Catholics.
Back in 1991, 92 percent of the population identified as Catholic while only two percent responded with “no religion”. In 15 years, this has increased five times over to almost a tenth of the Irish population.
The decline in Catholicism in Ireland may also be a result of a global trend noted by Pew Research Center which showed that across Europe the number of deaths among Christians exceeded the number of births.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn