Feb. 18, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau today convened faith-based leaders from around the country for the 2020 Census Interfaith Summit to discuss the importance of encouraging members of their communities to respond to the 2020 Census. Representing a diverse range of religions, leaders and attendees participated in a robust discussion with Census Bureau officials at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
“We partner with faith-based institutions and communities to get the word out about the importance of the 2020 census,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Faith leaders play an integral role in the community. They are the trusted voices, and in some cases in the hardest to reach communities they are the most trusted voice.”
Participants of the 2020 Census Interfaith Summit included leaders from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, the Catholic Health Association Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and other diverse religious traditions and practices and national and regional faith-based organizations and institutions.
“Here at the cathedral, we firmly believe that every person is a beloved child of God that matters and should be seen and heard. That extends not only here at the cathedral, but across the country, and the census is a part of that,” said Kevin Eckstrom, chief communications officer, Washington National Cathedral.
“It is vitally important that all people are counted in the census," explained Rev. Gabriel Salguero from the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. “Leaders in the Latino evangelical community are proud to do our part to ensure everyone is counted.”
“American Muslims are a part of the American family. And for this very reason it’s important for us to be counted,” said Hurunnessa Fariad, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center. “We appreciate the Census Bureau’s sensitivity in approaching the American Muslim community through its most trusted voices — it’s faith leaders and faith institutions. It’s these trusted voices that will make all the difference in ensuring our community is represented alongside others in the American democracy.”
“The census is absolutely critical, especially to minority communities,” said Bishop Reginald Jackson, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, 6th District of Georgia. “Every 10 years our communities go undercounted. We lose out on millions of dollars for libraries, roads, community services, and more importantly, representation in Congress. It gives us a seat of power and a voice to be heard. It’s so important that we as individuals, and as a community, be counted.”
“Our Faith calls us to understand that people are made in the image and likeness of God. So to respect the dignity of the human person, we want to ensure that all that we’re doing is in respect to that dignity. That’s what the census is all about. We need people to be counted to ensure access to federal funding for health care, education, food, and transportation, and they have an ability to be represented in congress and at the state level. It’s really about the dignity of the human person and having trust in the census process, because they themselves need to be counted. Their neighbors need to be counted. This community needs to be counted,” said Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Catholic Health Association.
“Jewish tradition reinforces the importance of societal welfare. So not only from the perspective of being counted, but also we are commanded to recognize the dignity of every person,” said Rabbi Menachem Creditor, United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation. “As an American Jewish community, the census is our most urgent priority so that we might fulfill the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
“There are so many reasons why it’s important for us to be counted in the census, from congressional representation to distribution of funds,” said Vikshu Kumar Gurung, founder of the Buddhist Society of Nebraska. “Partnering with the Census Bureau will help us address concerns of poverty, homelessness and hunger within our community. Public benefits and safety, child care, adult care, these are all benefits our communities need, and being part of the census will address these concerns, so it’s very important for us to be counted in the 2020 Census.”
Today’s summit also highlighted the upcoming Faith Communities Census Weekend of Action, which will take place at houses of worship across the nation March 27-29, 2020. The Census Bureau established this decade’s faith community’s Census Weekend of Action as a coordinated opportunity for faith leaders to focus their outreach and support of the 2020 Census and encourage their communities to respond. Materials for faith-based leaders to encourage participation are available here.
This Faith Communities Census Weekend of Action is just before Census Day on April 1, the reference day people should use when responding to the 2020 Census. Most U.S. households will receive an invitation between March 12-20 with instructions on how to respond online, by phone or by mail. More information is available on how the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and to inform how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers.
For more information, visit 2020census.gov.