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U.S. Census Bureau to Ask Question on Religion in Population Survey

Reports of the demise of the religious inquiries of the U.S. Census Bureau have been exaggerated, it was learned today.

Robert W. Burgess, census director, has made known that while the religious question had been eliminated from the 1960 census, the Bureau intended to keep using it in the current population survey. In this survey persons interviewed are being asked to state their religion. The current position was made known by Mr. Burgess in a communication to Glenn A. Archer, executive director of “Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State.”

In March, 1957, the first use of the question , “what is your religion?” was made in a Federal census survey. A number of Jewish and other organizations protested that the government was violating constitutional guarantees and American tradition providing for separation of the government from religion.

In his communication, the census director wrote that “many have urged that more information, rather than less, on this general (religious) subject be made available.” He wrote another organization, the Religious Liberty Association, that “we do not see how in a voluntary survey the inquiry infringes on the religious freedom of an individual.”

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