Bolivian bishops say census should include religious affiliation

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Local bishops have urged government leaders to acknowledge the role of faith in Bolivian society by including religious affiliation in the questions that will be part of the country's 2012 census.

“We believe that the spiritual and religious dimension is a fundamental part of Bolivian reality that cannot be neglected or ignored, even in a secular State,” the bishops said in a Sept. 17 statement.
 
In their remarks, they also decried what they called the worsening state of human rights and Bolivia's institutions. 

“Many people feel they are persecuted for disagreeing with the country's current policies, and what is most aberrant is that the law is used for such purposes,” the bishop said, citing the recent example of the government filing lawsuits against three media outlets.

“Together with other voices from civil society, we reaffirm our rejection of these measures and we ask that the current laws regarding the press be followed,” they said.

“Many other persons who are imprisoned, exiled, political refugees, are suffering because there is no assurance of a fair trial and because of delayed justice.”
 
The law must not be turned into a political instrument, they underscored, which would undermine “the democratic foundations of our society that have cost so many people and institutions so much effort.”

The bishops concluded by praying to God that “his Spirit will find a place in all Bolivians, that he will build us up in the truth 'that sets us free,' encourage us to live together in fraternity and justice, and strengthen us in the service of our brothers.”

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