Our member organization Prometheus Society shared their stance on the difficulty of classification of non-religious people in Slovakia:
In 1991, 2001 and 2011, non-religious citizens were classified as a sub-item in the category of religious beliefs when determining the population’s religion. In our opinion, it is not possible from the point of view of methodology to classify the position of a non-religious religion / opinion as a subset or subheading of a religion. Religious and non-religious denominations (faith / belief) are two equal worldview attitudes, each of which is subsequently separately divided into its own subsets. Religions for Christian, Islamic, Jewish, etc. And in the case of Slovakia, with the dominance of the Christian religion, the affiliation to the Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Reformed faith, etc. is still ascertained. True, in the census in Slovakia, the relationship to the relevant church is found out.
The fact that the census does not ascertain the structure of the population without a religious worldview and their specifics is a factual confirmation of the fact that the state is not really interested in secular citizens – citizens without religion. The second largest worldview group – “without religion” is systematically ignored. The state does not specifically register it and no longer supports it in any financial way. Despite the fact that (according to the results of the 2011 census) this group is larger than the sum of all other religions except Catholics, in absolute terms by 179,273 people and in percentage by 3.32%.
As we stated at a joint meeting of representatives of the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic in January 2019, the use of the term “non-religious” is discriminatory against people with a non-religious view of the world. Citizens without religion have convictions, denominations and values, too. They live in Slovak society, are a natural part of it, pay taxes, raise children, contribute to the formation and development of society. Using the term “without religion” for their worldview position directly evokes our unprincipledness or immorality, which makes this term derogatory, misleading and therefore unacceptable. At the same time, the inclusion of the position “without religion” in the penultimate place of the list of religions is illogical and is not justified either methodically, semantically or numerically. In sociological research, non-religious citizens reached a population of at least 24%, in contrast to the 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses, they reached (only) 9.8, 12.96 and 13.44%. In the end, our negotiations and arguments led to a change in the methodology and terminology of the 2021 census confessions. Only after the election of the religion did the offer of specific churches or religions follow.
In the census campaign, we chose (also due to the support of the European Humanist Federation) to combine a personal campaign (by e-mail, letter, personal campaign) with a wide public campaign through newspaper articles, social networks, billboards and short animated films (within one minute). It is not possible to determine in advance what our final number will be in this year’s census. Due to a change in the methodology of the census and the campaign, we are convinced that we will be able to break the 20% threshold for non-religious citizens for the first time. This is despite the fact that in Slovakia, in the practical public policy of the state, citizens without religion actually do not exist. They officially exist only once every ten years: as an unwanted product to answer a question about religion.
Whether the resulting number will be thirteen or twenty-six percent is not critical. In both cases, it is already the so-called “large minority”. That is, a value calculated as a percentage in two-digit numbers that the company must pay attention to and respect. It is very important, in the words of the former Vice-President of the Slovak Constitutional Court Eduard Barány, to ensure not only the autonomy of the individual (forum internum) but also the possibilities and rights of external expression (forum externum) for this worldview minority. And this should also be reflected in the specific practical policy of the state and its representatives.