There has been a push to encourage people to push 'no religion' on the census if they are no longer observing the religion they were born into. This has angered anti-Islam campaigners, who fear that it will somehow mean the end of Christianity. Comedian Alice Fraser delves into the issue.
Alice Rebekah Fraser

5 Aug 2016 - 3:00 PM  UPDATED 5 Aug 2016 - 10:47 PM

In recent weeks there has been a push for atheists to “tick the truth” by ticking the "no religion" box in the upcoming census instead of ticking the “religion I was born into and don’t tell my grandparents I don’t still believe” box. This wild idea of telling the truth has met with a very reasonable and sane backlash from anti-Islam campaigners, who say that the wave of people not pretending to be Christians any more would ensure Islam becomes Australia's dominant religion.


Because if Jesus stood for anything, it was lying about your faith. In fact, Jesus really pushed hard on the lying-about-your-faith-for-absolutely-insane-political-reasons. I’m pretty sure it’s part of the Sermon on the Mount. Just after the “meek shall inherit the earth”, it was, “the Islamophobes who don’t understand demographic statistics will inherit a voice in the Australian parliamentary system by pretending to believe in me in the form of ticking a box.”

We should lie about being Christian, because otherwise we’ll have a government that knows the truth about its own demographic statistics and then… what? BAM! Islamic influence! Too many kebab shops! Mosques everywhere! Mosques in every suburb! Mosques in every room of your house! You’ll have to put a net around your bed so you don’t get stung in the night no wait that’s mosquitoes... The call to prayer will ring out at dawn! Buzzing round your ears and then retreating when you try to bat it away, only to return just as you’re getting back to… no wait, that’s mosquitoes again.



This person thinks that if we let people admit to atheism, we won’t be allowed to have holidays any more. Just like when we stop believing in Santa, Christmas ends forever. Or wait, I can’t remember if Christmas is the Pagan midwinter holiday or the Christian holiday about the birth of Jesus, mainly because NOBODY CARES, PEOPLE WANT HAM AND A DAY OFF, and we’ll take Hanukkah too, because why not, and also Ramadan, if you’re into Intermittent Fasting or the teachings of Mohammed, or even if you just feel like mixing things up a little and eating more night-hummus for a month. And who doesn’t like night-hummus!? NOBODY, that’s who! The more holidays the better!


You know what holidays are mostly not about? The things they pretend to be about. When was the last time you felt joy for all mankind? Let me just take a red-hot-guess that the last time you were ‘merry’ wasn’t when your drunk grabby auntie Maureen was vomit-crying on the trampoline during Christmas lunch while the family teens played on their phones in the corner and Uncle John was saying something surprisingly racist in the kitchen. 


Let’s put aside the fact that Muslims, as 2.4% of the population, are unlikely to suddenly outnumber even the ‘real’ Christians in Australia, let alone all the ones who call themselves Christians because they went to communion once as a kid. One time eating Jesus does not a Christian make. I’m pretty sure screaming about Muslims also disqualifies you from being a real Christian.

Let’s put the facts aside because this whole argument isn’t about making sense. This isn’t even about making census. (Ha.) This is about a world in which all of a sudden, ideological assertions outweigh truth and reality. People are arguing against the truth because they fear that the outcome of the truth will be inconvenient to them. It’s happening on both sides of the bridge, too.


People on both the left and the right are becoming increasingly unwilling to consider any evidence that ‘looks wrong’ to their world-view; throwing every outlying data point in the trash until their graph looks super neat and doesn’t reflect reality in ANY WAY.


Look, for example, immigration does have an impact on the dominant culture of a place. More Kebab shops, for one! But also, different cultural values come with each wave of immigration, and it’s probably worth thinking about how we should integrate or celebrate those values in the context of our own dominant used-to-be-white-bread-now-we-have-pasta-and-dolmades-and-thai-food-wait-a-minute-immigration-is-awesome Anglo-Australian culture.


The assumptions of the left can be as gut-reactionary as those of the go-home-brigade. For example. Try this sentence on for size. “Some white men do have genuine experience of oppression.” If that statement makes you twitch and want to correct me, maybe you should think about having a good old spring-clean of your brain-house and understand that acknowledging nuance and complexity and contradictions in the world makes an understanding of the world stronger, not weaker.


You know why? Because the world is a complicated place. Like, super complicated. Only fascists think it’s simple. #notallfascists. Only idiots generalise. #notallidiots. The world is complicated. So complicated that you can’t really fit it into neat boxes on for example a census form. But if you’re going to try to boil reality down to a tick in the box, you might as well be ticking the truth.



Alice is currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Tickets and information for the show can be found here.



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