Baby Jesus, poster child for the 2010 Census?

By David Waters In those days a decree went out from the U.S. Census Bureau that all Americans should be … Continued

By David Waters

In those days a decree went out from the U.S. Census Bureau that all Americans should be accounted for, but some were fearful or conflicted about such an accounting, and so Jesus, Mary and Joseph were called upon to provide comfort and encouragement — on a poster.

Effective or offensive?

The poster was based on a story in Luke’s gospel that says Joseph and pregnant Mary journeyed from Galilee to Bethlehem to take part in a census decreed by Roman Emperor Augustus. There is no other record of that particular census ever taking place, but the story explains why Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, the city of David.

The poster was created by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (not by the Census Bureau), which sent it to more than 7,000 churches to inform Hispanics about the census and encourage them to participate, regardless of their legal status. Some find it comforting.

The posters “are being well received by the congregations that we’re working with, and they’re reminding people of the Gospel story of how Jesus was born,” Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO’s educational fund, told Post reporters Carol Morello and Ed O’Keefe.

Others find it “blasphemous.”

“The Bible establishes clearly that we are not supposed to use the name or God or Jesus in vain for any other purposes than worshiping,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders.

Rivera’s group is encouraging Latinos to boycott the 2010 Census in order to pressure on Congress to reform immigration laws.

Now there’s a fearful topic. Rivera’s group might want to consider making their own poster, using another gospel birth narrative.

A story in Matthew’s gospel says that after Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt, because King Herod was out to kill Jesus. According to the story, the family lived in Egypt for several years until Herod died.

“Joseph, Mary and Jesus were undocumented immigrants,” the poster might say. “Don’t be afraid.”


  • jadams1ab

    Yeah, but those were different times. Isreal wasn’t being lead by some kind of horrible despotic leader who wanted to give everyone health care and raise the marginal tax rate on the top 1% of wage earners. I mean, if they had been living under the type of person who would be willing to murder every make child under the age of two, I’m sure they wouldn’t have complied with the census.

  • patmatthews

    maybe they should use the sign the California state uses to note illegal immigrant crossing; a man, a woman, and a child in tow. For those of you that have seent erh sign, you know aht i mean. Count them running accross the border and nbot in church.Separate church and state. Interesting how the catholic Church takes up for hispanics, but not for the other races.

  • greg3

    The poster is inapt.The Holy Family were under the official jurisdiction of Rome. Illegal aliens and their children are not under U.S. jurisdiction. The Holy Family were guiltless of identity theft, illegally crossing a border, and mooching health care benefits for their anchor baby son, who would then entitle them to receive free dole from the Roman Empire. Also, Saint Joseph was a self supporting skilled artisan, not an uneducated peon.

  • WmarkW

    It’s not offensive, just incredibly stupid.There’s no secular record of a census at that time, and the idea that people would go to their ancestral homeland to be counted there is just dumb given the travel conditions of the time.This is, BTW, one of the better arguments that Jesus actually existed — the Gospel writers wouldn’t have had to invent fanciful stories about how he was born in Bethlehem, if he hadn’t been a real person who people knew came from Nazareth.

  • n_observer

    That there was no enrollment in 1 AD proves only that St. Dionysius’ chronology was bad (which we already knew), not that the Gospel account is fundamentally wrong.We know that censuses were indeed held in the last decade B.C., but consider the contrary position: who would argue in support of his message that Jesus’ birth occurred during a putative but widely disruptive and easily disproved event which didn’t happen? Like the notion that Jesus didn’t exist, arguing against the census has to explain why the story embraces complications which aren’t necessary if the entire narrative was indeed merely made up from whole cloth from the beginning.More to the point, though, the notion of appealing to the Bible in support of participation in a census is the fact that censuses are always depicted in the Bible as abusive acts of an arrogant power.When David decided to take a census of his subjects, for instance, God smote the kingdom with a plague for his arrogance.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    It’s stupid, paternalistic, racist, disgusting. What a surprise.Btw., are we moving off the passing of Oral Roberts any time soon, David Waters?Perhaps, you’ve noticed that those who wish to honor his memory are not doing so on this blog.People aren’t posting. Period. Let’s move on, please.

  • agapn9

    For all the anti-christians out there – lets make a few distinctions that most of you are unfamiliar with. There are two basic different claims about truth: a logical or necessary claim that something is true and a contingent claim that something is true.To invalidate a logical or necessary claim you have to prove that the claim is self-contradictory or contingent.To prove that a contingent claim is false you have to prove that a given set of facts verified to be true make a contingent fact false by necessity. Now claiming that X is an expert on the nature of the moon and that X has an opinion that the moon is made of green cheese is worth remarking but its doesn’t prove the moon is made of green cheese.It may mean either that X really isn’t an expert or that X is in error or that possibly the moon is made out of green cheese but of the three options the third is the least likely.But to use X’s statement that the moon is made of green cheese as a dictum from on high is out there – way out there and I hope if any of you fall into that fallacy you get help quickly.

  • csintala79

    So, we are not to use the Lord’s name in vain; well, then why do we have “In God We Trust” on our coins and include “One nation under God” in our pledge of allegiance to our worldly political entity? Neither of these statements are part of worship; instead, they are jingoistic claims that our country is something special for God. Is this in scripture? It is untrue to make the claim that all (implied by the collective, we) in this nation trust God. Some, probably most, do, but not all. Did Christ indicate that he did or would look more favorably on one nation than all the rest? No. Both statements are blasphemous, but we tenaciously and shamefully clasp them to our breasts. Our government often has and continues to do things of which Christ did not approve. He recognized that this is necessary by telling us to render to Caesar what is his and unto God what is His. However, Rome and all other governments are not “under God” in the sense of being uniquely favored by God. The only nation “under God” will be the one He will establish when He comes again in His glory. Statements implying something else are blasphemous.

  • davidsawh

    I think the immaculate conception was with her next door neighbor. The terrified girl had to say that she hadn’t a done it otherwise she would have been stoned to death.

  • segeny

    Should have read “Haysoos, Maria and Juan” – - of course the jack*ss carrying the illegals across our border is right on. After all, aren’t the Dummycr*ps carrying the water for America’s illegal alien invaders?

  • marieburns

    You’re wrong about the census; the census Luke specifies — ordered by Quirinius — did take place but not till 6 C.E., about 10 years after the date most theologians think Jesus was born. The census was famous because it engendered a revolt led by Judas of Gamala, one of the “models” for Jesus. BTW, if the story were true, Joseph would have had to know his genealogy back 42 generations, a preposterous notion, & I suppose every single male Jew would have had to get up & go someplace else. Like all of the Gospel stories, this one is just a story, not history. Enjoy it.The Constant Weader at

  • James10

    The poster was produced by a non-profit; 501c3. If they want to claim that Joseph and Mary were in the Roman census they can. If they want to claim that Jesus was born of a virgin birth they can do that to. Luke 2Clear as a bell.They can claim that Jesus of Nazareth believed the Jews should comply with Roman law. That’s certainly in the New Testament.

  • US-conscience

    actually, Marie Burns, the cencus was by an imperial edict from Caesar Augustus (31 b.c. – A.D. 14) – the sentence most bibles translate “this was the first registration when Quirinius was govenor of Seria” – because of the odd greek construction of the sentence, could more correctly be translated ” this was the first registration before Quirinius was govenor” Luke was clarifying that this was before the well known, troublesome census of A.D. 6, which Luke was aware of and mentions in the book of Acts. Luke was a historian and all his historical observations are accurate and accepted by even the most liberal of historians.As for Joseph knowing his genealogy… this is something that all Jews of that time where well aware of and kept meticulous records of ( just read the old Testament ) Knowing what tribe you came from and your heritage was very important to the Hebrew nation. Like all of the Gospel narratives, they are historically as well as morally and theologically accurat.

  • US-conscience


  • James10

    The Holy Family were under the official jurisdiction of Rome. Illegal aliens and their children are not under U.S. jurisdiction. ……Posted by: greg3 | December 17, 2009 6:13 PMIf they weren’t under US jurisdiction they couldn’t be prosecuted for committing crimes in the US.

  • WilyArmadilla

    I hope *all* the illegals choose to participate in the boycott being pushed by the pro-criminal, pro-amnesty, ethnocentric National Association of Latino Elected Officials.Regardless of their intent, this boycott might mean that federal representation isn’t skewed to allow the illegals and their (non)apologists an even greater influence in governmental affairs the pro-crime lobby already has.Since the census drives federal representation, illegal aliens shouldn’t even be allowed to participate. They have no right to representation, no say in our government, and no business being counted as if their demographic had any right or merit.

  • ATrueChristian

    Nobserver wrote:”More to the point, though, the notion of appealing to the Bible in support of participation in a census is the fact that censuses are always depicted in the Bible as abusive acts of an arrogant power.”Perhaps most were, but not all. Moses took the original census in the desert as was required by God. That census was certainly not considered an “abusive act(s) of an arrogant power.”

  • ATrueChristian

    I have no problems with the posters I just have a problem with equating the Holy Family with illegal immigrants (i.e. “undocumented immigrants”). They certainly were NOT. They were Roman citizens of Hebrew lineage, going into a Hebrew territory, all of which were under control of Rome. There’s no way to construe that they were illegal immigrants.

  • rusty3

    All illegals must report to the place of their birth for God’s census–contact the Roman Catholic Church for more information.

  • ZZim

    “There is no other record of that particular census ever taking place,…”Sure there is. I read about it in an archaeology textbook in college. The Romans held periodic censuses in order to assess the population and apportion taxes. It’s good governance and governance was something the Romans excelled at.Back on topic, I don’t see anything offensive about this poster at all.

  • tojby_2000

    ATrueChristian wrote: They (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) were Roman citizens

  • awalker1972

    Gee, good to see that the dems are consistent when it comes to the separation of church and state.its an old trope by now, but nonetheless on point: imagine if Bush had done this.

  • freakspd

    I thank the Lord on a daily basis. That he has given us so much compared to other places in this world. YET; why do we have to share our great nation with such a sorry bunch of screaming heathan paganists. Sodomites, Babykillers, and Atheists shall all be rebuked in the coming DAYS.

  • morphylius

    The God fearing, God-is-on-our-side crowd. The nasty, preachy Christian swarm. On the march! A Western version of the Taliban. The borne-again’s, the multi-headed Christian evangelists. The false profits, with their multimillion-dollar compensations for bringing the message of peace, love and forgiveness … no meanness, to the masses. Jesus must be rolling in his grave. I’d just love to be a Praying Mantis on the wall when these so called men and women of GOD go before the BIG DOG for their entrance interview. Think they’ll be given the keys to the magic kingdom? Extremists, army’s of fanatical Religious zealots, driven by greed, control and power in this life, intolerant of the very world God created. Preaching salvation and bliss in the next life for those who believe and eternal damnation to all non believers. The Theory of Evolution will not be tolerated. Charles Darwin is Satin, Science is the Anti-Christ. Global warming is a left wing conspiracy and the Sun isn’t yellow it’s chicken … thanks Bob. Goose-step is resurrected before our very eyes(The Lion and the Unicorn).

  • n_observer

    Good catch about Moses’ numbering of the tribes.How about we say, then, that any census not ordered by God was viewed by the Bible as an arrogant presumption offensive to God?

  • GDWymer

    Effective or Offensive? Really? It is another wonderful example of the political stupidity and religious idiocy so fully enjoyed by so many in the United States. It will probably be effective. It will probably offend a few for various and opposite reasons. But who cares? This is America! Of course it will work. I know how FREAKSPD feels. I also am thankful. I thank daily the Founders for the right to be a baby-killer, sodomite and atheistic heathen pagan.

  • wolfcastle

    “The Bible establishes clearly that we are not supposed to use the name or God or Jesus in vain for any other purposes than worshiping,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian LeadersAnd when in the past 2000 years has that actually be followed?

  • GDWymer

    US Conscience states: “the sentence most bibles translate “this was the first registration when Quirinius was govenor of Seria” – because of the odd greek construction of the sentence, could more correctly be translated ” this was the first registration before Quirinius was govenor.” If “most bibles” translate it one way then why do we believe another translation with “odd greek construction?” It seems that the historian Luke so admired by and only by Christians was not a very good scholar. But then who knows who wrote this claptrap. Christians today, in the face of all compelling evidence contrary to their deeply held beliefs, will always find their own scholars to defend the faith. they have to no matter what. Not the brightest people on the planet.

  • ProveMeWrong

    Not only will I refuse to answer the door on purpose, but if they actually find me and corner me for information, my name will officially be Paco, and I live with 15 people and only 1 toilet.

  • coloradodog

    What really creeps me out about this is the Orwellian “Don’t Be Afraid” message.Afraid of what?- someone will tip off the IRS?- someone will find out someone is gay- someone will call “la migra”?- someone will use the information against someone else in the name of this very poster child?

  • philster7656

    OK, so if I remember correctly Joseph and Mary had to return to the town in which Joseph was born for Caesar’s census. So does this mean that the National Association of Latino Elected Officials wants all the illegal immigrants to go home so they can be counted in Mexico’s census?

  • sarahabc

    awalker1972, the article clearly states neither Obama nor any government entity put out this poster and that the poster is only placed in churches. Your “separation of church and state” argument is without merit.

  • Jerzy

    But I thought Obama was the Messiah, Our True Savior.

  • MyTwoCents4

    Simply their Poster should state “You cannot be heard, if no one knows you’re here.” Stand Up and be counted.Instead of this ridiculous Poster that appears to offend on various levels across the board.Supposedly, if we are counted accordingly, then our regions obtain appropriate Federal Fundings as well as State Funding, which is really our tax dollars coming back to us. Why anyone would balk at the chance to get our money back to use as deemed necessary to improve the quality of our taxpaying lives at the local level where we all live, is beyond me.Aside from all the hatred and animosity for each other, the bottome line is we all gain something out of this head count. Whether or not people want to admit it. Why let DC keep what’s rightfully ours to begin with, just because of a silly head count no one wants to participate in, because then big brother might know where you are…NEWS FLASH. They already know.So stand up and be counted, get what is yours.

  • djmolter

    No one seems to want to emulate Christ in much of anything, so why would they do so in the census? But overall, it seems like one more way of assuming that everyone is Christian. Did Mohammed go in for a census?

  • post_reader_in_wv

    Tempest in a teapot. Move along.

  • tojby_2000

    Jerzy wrote: But I thought Obama was the Messiah, Our True Savior. __________________________________________That’s because you watch FuxNews.

  • LeticiaVelasquez

    This is the same president who wouldn’t give a speech at Georgetown in front of IHS, the name of Jesus. Funny how, when he needs political capital, the Holy Name becomes useful to him. Shame on Obama for exploiting the Holy Name of Jesus to gerrymander political districts in order to secure his re-election, and secure more tax dollars to pay for the slaughter of the innocents through abortion.

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