(Dec. 15) -- A poster meant to encourage Latinos to participate in the 2010 Census is turning into a theological bone of contention, reported USA Today. The poster, which depicts Joseph and a pregnant Mary arriving in Bethlehem more than two millennia ago, has been called "blasphemous" by one Latino cleric.
The connection between the Census and the birth of Jesus may need a word of explanation. According to the Gospel of Luke, USA Today said, Joseph had returned to Bethlehem to be counted in the Roman census. Since he and Mary could find no lodging at an inn, the Gospel says, Jesus was placed in a manger.
The poster, which was created and distributed by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, is aimed at Latino evangelicals, the paper said. It represents an effort to reassure a group that is sometimes suspicious of such government initiatives as the Census.
"Our challenge is a full Latino count," Jose Cruz told USA Today. Cruz, who is senior director of civic engagement at NALEO, designed the poster. "There is no more trusted voice in our community than faith-based leaders."
There is, however, at least one faith-based leader who has turned up his nose at the campaign. The Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, told the paper that the poster was a clear violation of the divide between church and state. He called it "blasphemous" and "an assault against our Christian faith."
Cruz was not swayed. "Mary and Joseph, who were both God-fearing, decided they needed to participate," he reminded USA Today.