Was Jesus Christ a refugee? | The Tylt

Was Jesus Christ a refugee?

The U.S. cap on refugees is at a record low, and many are wondering whether or not the nation's current policies align with its values, citing Jesus Christ as an example of a refugee in need of shelter. Others argue Christ and his parents were not refugees: Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with a pregnant Mary to partake in a census, not flee persecution. But Bible study groups clap back: what about the Holy Family's flight into Egypt to escape Herod's massacre? Was Christ a refugee?

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Many people assume Joseph and Mary were fleeing persecution when they traveled a grueling 90 miles to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. But according to scripture, the couple traveled to Bethlehem in order to register in a government-mandated census.

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But many biblical scholars point out that it was not the Holy Family's journey to Bethlehem that made Jesus a refugee; it was their flight to Egypt in order to escape the murderous King Herod. Threatened by rumors of Jesus, Herod orders all boys under the age of two killed, an atrocity known as the "Massacre of the Innocents."

According to Joan E. Taylor, a professor of Christian Origins: 

...Joseph has been warned beforehand in a dream of Herod’s intentions to kill little Jesus, and the family flees to Egypt. It is not until Herod is dead that Joseph and Mary dare return, and then they avoid Judaea: Joseph 'was afraid to go there' (Matthew 2.22) because Herod’s son is in charge. Instead they find a new place of refuge, in Nazareth of Galilee, far from Bethlehem.
Jesus’ earliest years were then, according to the Gospel of Matthew, spent as a refugee in a foreign land, and then as a displaced person in a village a long way from his family’s original home.
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Some conservatives see claims of Christ's refugee status as a form of manipulation on the public, coercing the average citizen to be more accepting of refugees fleeing to America. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of white evangelical Protestants believe "the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees," while 65% of adults unaffiliated with any religion believe the U.S. does have a responsibility to accept refugees into the country.

Clearly much of the Christian community does not identify with the idea of Christ as a refugee, and in theory, wouldn't they be the ones to know? 

You don't need to be a Christian in order to understand history. Plus, arguing about whether Christ was or wasn't a refugee simply gives people an excuse to ignore their fellow man in need; everyone has a responsibility to offer shelter to the displaced and support for the poor. Christ's refugee status should not act as a scapegoat for anyone. As Taylor puts it:

The legacy of being a refugee...informed Jesus’ teaching. When he set off on his mission, he took up the life of a displaced person with 'nowhere to lay his head' (Matthew 8.20; Luke 9.58). He asked those who acted for him to go out without a bag or a change of clothing, essentially to walk along the road like destitute refugees who had suddenly fled, relying on the generosity and hospitality of ordinary people whose villages they entered (Mark 6.8–11; Matthew 10.9–11; Luke 9.3).

Whether modeling Christ-like behavior or not, no one should turn their back on someone in need. 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Was Jesus Christ a refugee?
A festive crown for the winner
#JesusWasARefugee
#JesusWasntARefugee