A suggestion from Kit �'Marcaigh
In the publication of the latest CSO census we see the portrayal of patriarchal traditions in Ireland as larger than they actually are. The figures are not a true and balanced indication of the size of the faith communities because:
Not all Pagan folk put down 'Pagan'; some break it down by their own traditions and use various labels such as Heathen, Wiccan, etc. The CSO are more than likely ignorant of what these mean and that they come under the Pagan umbrella. And so we loose our true weight in numbers as a community. These get lumped into the 'Other Stated Religions' category.
There are folk out there who are Pagan but may not have met another Pagan person or be aware of the notion there is also a supposed 'community'. So, without a sense of pride, of belonging, knowing they are not the only ones, they may be afraid to openly declare their beliefs and so either put down the faith they were born into (see below), or NONE.
People who do not practice or believe in the faith they were born into may still state that particular tradition, again inflating the true numbers of some faiths.
CSO 2006 - Total population 4,172,013.
Other Stated Religions: 22,497 Irish citizens, 54,033 residents in total.
No Religion: 105,356 Irish citizens, 175,252 residents in total.
Not Stated: 34,785 Irish citizens, 66,750 residents in total.
Given that Pagan traditions are free spiritual paths, and not religions ( the root of the word "religion" is usually traced to the Latin religare [re: back, and ligare: to bind], so that the term is associated with "being bound" to dogma/tenets) , it would be interesting to know how many pedantic Pagans figure in the 'No Religion' category.
If in the next census we unanimously state 'Pagan', the total numbers would give weight to all our traditions as a collective Pagan community. Currently, we are seen as an easily dismissed minority, as evident with the recent Sate-Interfaith talks. (Saying that, the efforts made to be included, by the community as a whole, was a rather lacklustre bid. Well done to those who had the courage and broader vision to try.)
Patriarchal traditions not only quote census figures (as do the media and State agencies), but also give weight to their flocks in using the figures from various rites such as baptisms, communions, confirmations and weddings.
Have many of us still contribute to this? If you were born into such a tradition and have not formally left the church you are on paper, and considered by the churches, a member of their flock still.
Having found and truly following the Pagan path the marking of that would not only be through initiation or self-dedication to your chosen path, but should also be the formal defection from the church you were born into. In not doing so, as in all memberships, you add to their weight and Share Of Voice in the mainstream.
Under Vatican II, it is even noted that a person has the right to choose one's own faith, and the church gives you the choice to formally defect. Just write to the Archbishop of Dublin, or possibly the bishop of the diocese you were born in, and explain that under VII you are excercising the right to defect. You will need to state where you were baptised, date of birth and/or baptism, the names of your parents and Godparents also.
You may get a response explaining the 'consequences' of this, like not being able to marry in a church etc., but simply reply explaining that you do not believe in the Christian teachings because you are either gay, Athiest, or of Pagan faith. Soon enough you will get your baptism certificate returned, but amended with DEFECTION stamped all over it. Its rather simple, and you will no longer be counted amongst their numbers.
Reverend Dr Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland,