Status of the Submission
The following is a response to an invitation to participate in the Cultural Diversity Review by providing information on possible improvements by the Australian Bureau of Statistics standards and classifications.
This submission follows previous correspondence with the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August 2012 concerning the classification of Unitarians (and Unitarian-Universalists) under Christian (Other) in document 1266.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups, 2011. The content of this submission is substantially the same as that correspondence.
Classification of Unitarians
Under document 1266.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups, 2011, those who profess a Unitarian identity on the Australian census are classified as "Christian (Other)" with the code 2.29.2914
This has some historical veracity. Unitarian has historically been an liberal Christian theology that emphasised the rejection of Trinitarian positions.
However, from the latter half of the twentieth century onwards, Unitarianism has been increasingly associated as a pluralistic liberal orientation, that does not require a particular theological position. This newer position is evident in the main objectives of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), the North American Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA), the British General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (note the separation between the two names), and, most importantly for this context, the Australia-New Zealand Unitarian-Univeralist Association (ANZUUA).
ANZUUA, previously known as ANZUA before the Universalist association was included, was established in 1974 as the successor to the Australian Assembly of Unitarian and Liberal Christian Churches. On the current ANZUUA website the following is included under the section "Who We Are".
"We are spiritual communities with Christian origins that recognise and respect wisdom from a range of traditions, both religious and secular. Our gatherings can include people from many faiths and none, including progressive Christians, Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist and Earth centred
While we differ in our beliefs and experiences we have common principles involving respect for people of all faiths and cultures, respect for the planet, trying to live an 'ethical life' and developing our own sense of spirituality. We believe that spirituality can be developed through reason, conscience and our own experience."
It is evident that Unitarians (and Unitarian-Universalists etc) should not longer be classified as "Christian (Other)", as there are Unitarian Atheists, Unitarian Christians, Unitarian Pagans, & etc. Because of the religious pluralism is is best to place them under "Other, Miscellaneous religions" (classification group 6.xx.xxxx, "Other Religions").
A major problem of the current classification with regards to the Australian census is twofold. Firstly, it gives an inaccurate statement for those who do identify themselves as Unitarians in the classification scheme. Secondly, for those who know that they would be classified as Christian (Other) if they note themselves as such, they have an incentive to describe themselves as another religion, or none at all, on the census form. Either way, the census will suffer inaccuracies as a result.
Submitted Fri, August 21, 2015 6:36 pm