The Right to be Counted!
Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution mandates that a census must be taken every ten years. The population count that’s gathered as a result of the census is used to make some determinations that drastically affect the lives of all Americans. The year 2020 is of the utmost importance, because it is both a census and election year, and the determinations made as a result of the census will impact this country for at least a decade.
As a result of the census, the population count is used to determine the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as how many electoral votes each state will garner. Census population numbers are also used to draw congressional district lines and local voting districts. The data collected will also impact the enforcement of civil rights laws and determine how billions of dollars of federal funds will be allocated to each state, funding that provides health care, housing, education, food and income security and other vital services.
Our founding fathers established the census as a tool for political empowerment that would give the governed (the people) power over the government. The very reason why a want to be despot like Trump is doing anything to prevent a certain segment of the population from being counted. He simply wants to remove the will and power of the people. Our ability to vote for legislators that would represent our wishes and return tax dollars hinges upon all eligible people that’s living in America being counted in the census.
The right to be counted is at the foundation of our democracy and faith. There’s an iconic parable found in Matthew 18:11-14 commonly known as “The Lost Sheep” that ties our right to be counted to our faith in God. The parable can also be found in a similar form in the Gospel of Luke but with a small variation. Both parables take the same approach; yet, Jesus uses each one to tell a different story.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus uses the parable to illustrate the importance of searching for souls that have strayed from God. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is describing the infinite love and solicitude that God has for all believers. In other words, all members of God’s flock are valuable and none should be excluded or allowed to go astray. When one of the sheep was lost, its lost was felt by the flock. It diminished the identity of the wholeness of the flock and only after the sheep was found and returned to the flock did it add value back to the sheep’s community.
It was very likely that the shepherd in the text had been hired to protect and keep all of the sheep safe and secure. That’s why when the shepherd discovered one of the sheep missing, he tracked the missing sheep and brought it back to the fold. That’s what the church has been charged to do, track down God’s missing sheep or search for those that have been lost.
The parable speaks loud about the degree to which God shows a great attention and concern for those who are lost or falls in harm way. In a similar vein, we should be equally alarmed and concerned when one person is miscounted or disregarded in our society. I read an article that said, “Our democracy loses it integrity and legitimacy when people and communities are made invisible and further marginalized by undercounting in the census.”
My brothers and sisters a wake-up call has gone out in America, for when the Trump Administration seeks to prevent people of color from being counted, they are literally trying to write that segment of people off and diminish their value to this country. As far as they are concerned, when you are not counted, you don’t exist.
When people in our communities are not counted, we lose political representation as well as federal tax dollars that our people need and deserve. Why do you think that Trump is trying so hard to high jack the census process by interjecting the question that asks, “whether you are a citizen or not?” He understands that the question will prevent a lot of immigrants, particularly ones of color, from filling out the census forms. That along with the African American Community’s figures of historically being uncounted would surely lead to an incorrect census. It is believed by some within the Trump Administration that uncounted people of color would benefit the Republicans and white supremacy rule.
I believe that it is my duty as a faith leader to tell church and community members that it is in your best interest and right to be counted in the 2020 Census. Make sure that everybody in your house, in your brother’s house, in your sister’s house and everybody else’s house stand up and be counted. The United States Constitution gives everyone the right to be counted!
This post is a small piece taken from the sermon titled “The Right to Be Counted” preached by Rev. Reuben J. Boyd, Jr. on July 7, 2019. Please visit our website at www.thirdstreetbethel.org