CountMeOut, a website which allows people to formally defect from the Catholic Church, had suspended its website.
The reason given is that the Catholic church has changed the rules, so it is no longer possible to leave.
According to CountMeOut, about 1000 people in Dublin alone went gone through the formal defection process last year. Over 12000 forms were downloaded from the website.
But how many atheists are there in Ireland? I checked the CSO website, since I recalled that more people answered “no religion” in the last census than were members of any religion except the the Roman Catholic church.
A look at the census form shows (see below) there’s a box labelled “no religion” under the religion question.
186318 people are ticked the “No religion” in the last census. Strangely, a further 929 chose to write “atheist” in the box provided.
So I called the CSO to ask “what’s the difference?”
“We don’t formally make the distinction. If people have made that distinction themselves, we publish it separately,” a CSO spokesman said.
“Technically I suppose its possible to have no religion without being an atheist.”
“I’d assume the vast majority of atheists would tick ‘no religion’.”