Census campaign aims to give voice to non-religious spirituality

A campaign is encouraging people who consider themselves spiritual but not of a particular faith, to put ‘holistic’ in answer to the question on religion in the 2011 UK census


A campaign has been established to help people who would describe themselves as spiritual but not of a particular religious faith, to obtain recognition through the 2011 UK census questionnaire. Those who feel they fall into this group are being encouraged to use the word ‘holistic’ to describe their religion in the national survey, which takes place every ten years and households are to complete on 27 March this year.

“Holistic is shorthand for an openhearted, open-minded approach that recognises the connections between all aspects of life, celebrates diversity and respects the essence of all the world’s spiritual traditions,” said William Bloom, a co-director of the campaign. “It is also a word that recognises the links between spirituality, health and wellbeing; and supports our care and love for the natural world.”

He added: “It is a good word because it has many positive connotations, is neutral, respectable, mainstream and already widely used in education, healthcare and government. By writing ‘holistic’ in the religion box, people can help integrate creative and positive spiritual ideas into the fabric of society.”

The information from the census will be used to guide national and local government policy. Campaigners say that using the word holistic in the census could help influence, for example, the curriculum of religious studies in schools, the way in which pastoral and chaplaincy work is done in hospitals, colleges and prisons, and NHS initiatives that link spirituality with wellbeing.

Supporters said that for some decades now a new form of spirituality has been arising as an alternative to traditional religion and secular materialism. “Countless people are deeply spiritual but not religious – and it is time for us to stand up and be counted, literally,” said psychologist and bestselling author, Gill Edwards.