“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” (Luke 2:1, New International Version)
As Christians gather in their places of worship next week to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, they will once again hear the narrative of that monumental birth, beginning with the census decree issued by Caesar Augustus that everyone should be counted. Caesar’s line never makes a Christmas card in the way the words of the shepherds or angels do, but it is a very important fact in the Christian story that the Roman Empire conducted a census every five years, including this famous one that forced Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem where Jesus would be born.
I hope Stephen Harper shows up to church somewhere next week to hear that decree and is moved to make a similar one of his own: “In those days, Stephen Harper issued a decree that a mandatory long-form census will continue to be taken in Canada every five years, starting again in 2011.”
Unfortunately, he has had Tony Clement, the minister responsible for the census, make decrees to the contrary, proposing instead to stop the mandatory long-form census and introduce a new voluntary questionnaire. They try to make it sound as if it will accomplish the same goals as the census did, but that is not true........