Procedures of U.S. Census Bureau Held a “menace” to Religious Groups
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Procedures of U.S. Census Bureau Held a “menace” to Religious Groups

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Serious objections to the procedure which the U.S. Census Bureau used in a sample census last year, during which citizens were asked to state their religious preference, were raised today by Dr. H.S. Linfield, executive secretary of the Jewish Statistical Bureau, following the Census Bureau’s publication of a series of bulletins based on the answers assembled in the sample census.

Dr. Linfield, a well known authority on Jewish statistics, charges that the procedures which the Census Bureau adopted “are undemocratic and a menace to the liberties of all American religious groups.” The new statistics released by the Bureau, he claims, do not treat all religious groups of the country equally. He pointed out that only six groups are given: Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics and Jews.

“The Bureau did not publish the number of persons and the socio-economic characteristics of such important religious groups as Episcopalians, Mormons, and others,” Dr. Linfield states. “Indeed only the Jewish group of all the religious minorities was indicated by name and separate statistics published.”

“For the first time in the history of the United States,” Dr. Linfield adds, “Federal census agents early in 1957, in a nationwide sample survey, asked Americans to state their religious preference. The answers to this question correlated with other questions, gave the Census Bureau the means to publish social and economic statistics of the religious groups, by sex, age, etc., in the manner of the separate statistics of Negroes and the other racial groups. But the Census Bureau chose to publish this type of census data only of Jews and five other religious groups.


“But even in the case of the six religious groups which it enumerated by name, the Census Bureau did not put all of them on the same level,” Dr. Linfield charges. “Instead, the Census Bureau chose for publication certain statistical data, such as urban and rural distribution, for Jews and one or two more, but not for the other religious groups. Our aim,” Dr. Linfield stresses, “is to point out that the Census Bureau has adopted a procedure or method for the publication of its new statistics which is undemocratic.”

“Indeed, if the Federal Census Bureau is to continue with its new statistics,” Dr. Linfield concludes, “any and all American religious groups may be separately enumerate at any time; separate social and economic statistics released of one or some of them by name; and indeed some statistical data revealed of one or some groups over against other statistical data of other groups – all of these, when, if, and as the Census Bureau chooses to do. The liberties of all religious groups of the country are affected.”

Dr. Linfield submitted his views to the National Council for Statistics of Jews, composed of delegates appointed by the national federations of Jewish congregations and the following national associations of rabbis: Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbinical Assembly of America, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbinical Council of America, Union of Orthodox Rabbis of United States and Canada; the Union of American Hebrew Congregations Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Synagogue of America.

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