ADVERTISEMENTS will be appearing on buses around town from today, urging non-religious people to stand up and be counted.

Secular organisation the British Humanist Association has placed signs on more than 200 buses nationwide, including some in Bolton, as part of a 2011 census campaign.

The adverts bear the slogan “Not religious? In this year’s census say so” and the association says it is its attempt to get people to tick the right box when filling in this month’s census.

The campaigners say it aims to raise awareness of the severe impact misleading census data has in policy- making and resource allocation.

They claim many people ticked the “Christian” box in the last census in 2001 for cultural rather than religious reasons — having no belief in God or church attendance.

Andrew Copson, BHA chief executive, said: “We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious to say so. Ticking ‘No religion’ means their voices will be heard and we will have a truthful picture of what people really believe today.”

The BHA says it hopes the adverts — paid for from public donations — will help ensure the 2011 census creates an accurate figure and prevent exclusion and discrimination against nonreligious people.

But the Rev Matt Thompson, the Vicar of Bolton, said: “I am all for people being honest, but I would say that people know what they are doing when they tick the box.

“People may not actually go to church every week, but can still feel they have Christian values and are part of the Christian family.

“I have no objection to people being asked to think about what they are ticking, but religion is about how you feel in yourself not just what you do.”

In 2008, prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins caused a storm of controversy after helping to pay for advertisements declaring “there’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, on buses in London.