My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Group’s 2010 Census promo called ‘blasphemous’

From USA Today:

A push to spread the gospel about the 2010 Census this Christmas is stoking controversy with a campaign that links the government count to events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

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The National Association of Latino Elected Officials is leading the distribution to churches and clergy of thousands of posters that depict the arrival of Joseph and a pregnant Mary in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. As chronicled in the Gospel of Luke, Joseph returned to be counted in a Roman census, but he and Mary found no room at an inn, and Jesus was born in a manger.

“This is how Jesus was born,” the poster states. “Joseph and Mary participated in the Census.”

Most of the posters are in Spanish and target Latino evangelicals, says Jose Cruz, senior director of civic engagement at the Latino association, which launched its Ya Es Hora (It’s Time) campaign in 2006 to promote voter registration among Latinos.

It is promoting the Census, used to help allocate $400 billion a year in federal dollars, redraw state and local political districts and determine the number of seats each state gets in Congress.

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12 Responses to “Group’s 2010 Census promo called ‘blasphemous’”

  1. Ignatius Says:

    As I recall, the people that were required to return to their traditional family homes in places like Jerusalem were none to happy about it. It was a mojor imposition and an ardous journey, especially for someone 9 months pregnant atop an ass.

    So it’s a curious approach by the Census Bureau. It brings to mind an unfeeling central government insisting that its needs for data and taxes trump all other concerns.

  2. Peregrino Says:

    Ignatius, I think most Latinos see the birth of Jesus as a positive thing, but feel free to interpret it through a “small government” ideology.

    What the USA Today article failed to mention is that the person calling the poster blasphemous is Rev. Miguel Rivera, who is advocating a boycott of the Census. It is kind of hard to see how this graphic portrayal of Luke 2:1-4 is blasphemy.

  3. Cynthia Says:

    Christians are all called to emulate Christ. Christ said ” Give Ceasar’s things to Ceasar, and God’s things to God.” Mary and Joseph were counted in their time. I do not see anything wrong with pointing that out to anyone. It can be seen as part of a spiritual commitment to be a responsible citizen in the community where you live. As someone who did Census work in 2000, I was disappointed by the couple of refusals I encountered, knowing that often it seemed like those who have been left out of so much, opted to remain so, and so, reducing ultimately, perhaps, the availability of additional representation, as well as funding that could all have a positive impact for them.
    I don’t see anything blasphemous about it, I think it is just an earnest effort to reach out to everyone and try to have them feel more at ease about what is often misinterpreted as government intrusion.

  4. Bobby J Says:

    There is no historical evidence of any census called by Caesar Augustus or by any governor, etc. at that time in that area. The Romans were meticulous recordkeepers, like the Egyptians, and there would be a record of such an event. Also, there is no record of ANY ancient census in which people were ordered to return to their place of origin for the count. They were not idiots back then. When they did take a census, they did so just like today – by counting people where they lived. The entire story of the Bethlehem census is just that – a story.

    I love the caption on the poster – “Don’t be afraid.” People aren’t afraid of the government. They’re angry. The 2010 census is going to be a disaster.

  5. Anonymous CL Says:

    Bobby J – To reach out to people (and there are a lot) who believe very firmly that everything the Bible says is correct, it is accurate to say that the stuff they believe says what it says. Regardless of being inefficient or entirely fabricated, the biblical census and the associated birth is obviously a key part in many people’s religion.

  6. Bobby J Says:

    Anonymous CL – I don’t dispute that people believe it or that playing to their beliefs in some small way might be an effective advertising campaign. So if we approach it from that perspective, do you really think the government should claim “This is How Jesus was Born” – as if he wouldn’t have been born without the census being part of the story? This is HOW Jesus was born? Really? If I was one of these fundamentalist believers I would be offended by the government claiming to be the cause of my god’s devine nativity. “See, we’re just like in the Bible! Without ‘us’, Jesus would have never been born!” It’s an insulting message. Either way, it’s a terrible ad campaign.

  7. Anonymous CL Says:

    Well, despite the government getting the brunt of the ire about this, it’s not the government making that claim, as it’s not really the government’s ad campaign.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121502928.html
    ” The posters, created by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), have been distributed to more than 7,000 churches in an effort to raise awareness of the census among Hispanics. …
    The posters were dreamed up by NALEO, which is one of 136,000 “partners” to the Census Bureau, all volunteer organizations that are helping spread the message that the census is important, easy and safe. …
    “We work with people from all walks of life to get an accurate count, but we do not provide funding to partner organizations and play no role in the creation of material by private community groups,” said Nick Kimball, a spokesman for the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, reading a written statement. “

    http://www.civilrights.org/census/census-resources/christmas/census-2010-christmas.html
    ” LCCREF, in partnership with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), NAACP, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), has developed several materials to help, including:
    - A poster depicting Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem for the census; it is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Creole.
    - Sample bulletins, which can be placed in churches in your community.
    - Sample readings, which reflect on the Biblical story and the importance of the 2010 census. “

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  10. Cynthia Says:

    BobbyJ, I also agree with the point you make.

    The idea is great, the wording could be improved, to make it more effective, and less controversial.

  11. Evan Says:

    I had no idea that Joseph and Mary were going to Israel to participate in the census. Kind of cool actually :)

  12. Pleb Says:

    somebody forgot separation of church and state.