A US televangelist and spiritual adviser to the US president has defended the Trump administration’s immigration clampdown, arguing that baby Jesus’ stay in Egypt was legal, otherwise he wouldn’t have been the savior of humanity.
Pastor Paula White, a Pentecostal evangelist who has been credited with converting President Trump to Christianity, made the eyebrow-raising argument in an interview with CBN News. When asked by the host, Erik Rosales, how the immigration controversy in the US corresponded to biblical teachings, Pastor Paula came up with this argument:
“I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, 'Well, Jesus was a refugee'. Yes, He did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If He had broken the law then He would have been sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.”
Jesus’s flight to Egypt is considered the final act of the Nativity of Jesus, which saw Jesus and his parents flee to Egypt upon hearing that King Herod of Judea planned to kill all newborn infants in the area. A family fleeing their homeland because staying would result in the death of their baby is probably consistent with the modern definition of refugees.
Whether breaking laws disqualifies a person from being a messiah is a debatable question. After all, Jesus was tried and crucified for the crime of blasphemy under Jewish law and for the crime of lèse majesté under Roman law. Whether the trial itself was a farce to give a veil of legality to a murder or a perfectly legal if misguided procedure is an open question even now.
Some episodes in the Gospels would probably be frowned-upon by modern law. For example, the one in which Jesus expelled money changers from the Jerusalem temple may well be considered unlawful use of force or an illegal protest, were it to happen today.
Most of the CBN interview was about Paula’s recent trip to the Youth for Tomorrow foster care center in Virginia. The facility is where some children separated from their parents under Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy are currently being housed. She described the center as “amazing” and praised the care provided for the children there: “Not just three square meals, psychiatric care, clinician, medical care, chapel, events, schooling, language and love.”
She maintained that the children being held there are victims of trafficking by “coyotes,” the term given to people who smuggle Latin American migrants across the Mexico-US border. She added her trip only strengthened her belief in greater border security.
“If we are going to be compassionate, we have to have stricter border security and laws,” the pastor said.
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