AMERICA/BOLIVIA - The Bishops ask to include the question about the religion that is professed in the next census

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

La Paz (Agenzia Fides) - "As Catholic Church, we once again ask that the question about the religion that each person professes be included": this is the request of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia (CEB), contained in the declaration entitled "For a transparent and inclusive census" published on June 13, in view of the national census of November 2022, for which "the Catholic Church has publicly requested the inclusion of the question on the choice of faith".
On June 7, 2022 - recalls the CEB text - a meeting was held with the technical staff of the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Cults Unit) and with the presence also of the Evangelical Churches, with the goal of evaluating whether to include the question about the religion that people profess. "We were surprised - the Bishops point out - because we were informed that the decision had already been taken not to include this question in the census and we were given the option of conducting a survey". The reasons for the decision, according to the state authorities, were the following: one more question would increase the time of the Census; the physical size of the questionnaire; the topic of religion is not relevant; what public policy would be applied when knowing the religion that is practiced.
"We believe that these arguments are not convincing and that they rather seem like pretexts to exclude the data of religious faith, an aspect that has not only a private but public significance", the Bishops affirm, who point out that in this way the census would be deprived of a fundamental element, since its purpose is to be the objective reflection of the Bolivian reality at a demographic, economic, social, cultural and religious level. "Ignoring this information means violating the right to public religious practice and association guaranteed by Article 4 of the Political Constitution of the Plurinational State" reiterates the CEB. The comprehensive human dimension and training also include the spiritual aspect of people, children, adolescents and young people who have the right to be trained in the religion or spiritual belief to which they belong. "That is why, as Catholic Church, we ask again that the question about the religion that each person professes be included". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 14/6/2022)