Every ten years or so the United States conducts a nationwide census, where everyone counts off when the census worker points to you. And if someone messes the number sequence up by not saying the correct number, where the person before shouts “two million, four hundred and two thousand, three hundred and twelve” and the next person shouts “sorry, I was tying my shoe” they have to start all over again at one. It is a tedious ordeal, just as it was in fourth grade but with a much larger “classroom” and many more “teachers” who are gainfully but temporarily employed by the Government.
All that to say this: there’s some issue today with a poster advertising the coming 2010 Census that depicts Mary and Joseph which says “This is how Jesus was born: Mary and Joseph participated in a Census”. Their goal, I assume, is to raise awareness of the census. Their result, though, is the upsetting of many evangelicals. The article in USA Today (where you can also see the poster) .
Tying the Census to the Christmas story strengthens the message, Cruz says, because “Mary and Joseph, who were both God-fearing, decided they needed to participate.”
There are two sides, if not more, to this rather small deal. Side one is the offended side that takes the stance that using Jesus to get people to register in the census is blasphemy. Others from this camp may cite the separation of church & state. Still others may say that Jesus’ birth was not reliant upon a census but upon the sovereign will of the Father, which is not mentioned in the poster.
Side two is the “well, whaddya know” side. They may not agree that it was a good idea but they also know that a world that doesn’t know Christ also, by default, tends to mishandle Him and use Him for marketing schemes, sky-fairy wishes and curses on the neighbor’s dogs — all of which have nothing to do with His Awesome Power and Majesty and therefore is laughable. What do you expect? They don’t know Him, but they do know how to exploit a story. Some people in this camp may take the step of saying — actually, that’s true: Jesus’ parents did participate in the Census, which says a lot about the gritty humanity of the Christ Child and the strange circumstances of His birth. But what you may not realize about Jesus is that…
I admit my bias in showing the two sides. I’m sure there are more. But what do YOU think?