Readers' reactions

February 26, 1999

Last week in The THES.. Graham Zellick urged the government not to ask people about their religion in the next census

Peter Harvey. Professor of Buddhist studies, University of Sunderland

Graham Zellick argues that the next census should not ask about a person's religion, as to do so would be an invasion of a person's human rights, particularly when refusing to answer a census question is a criminal act.

But as it will equally be a criminal act to refuse to answer any other census question, and the form will presumably have options such as "agnostic", I cannot see that there is a real problem.

Estimates of the number of Buddhists and Muslims in the UK vary widely, so it would be useful to have some relatively hard information on the matter. This should include details on what tradition of a religion a person follows, in the case of all religions, not just Christianity.

..and Sheila Rowbotham argued that public intellectuals are a dying breed

Hilda Kean. Tutor in history. Ruskin College, Oxford

In bemoaning the lack of engagement of social historians with the wider world Sheila Rowbotham ignores work on family history, collecting and heritage.

At Ruskin we are continuing the work pioneered by Raphael Samuel. Our public history discussion group engages those interested in making history now and our MA in popular memory and public history is tapping into such enthusiasm.

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