Nice Try Paula White, but Jesus was a Lawbreaking Refugee

The Holy Family in a Cage
Image via Christ Church Cathedral

President Trump’s top spiritual advisor, Paula White, has been justifying the President’s crusade to torture immigrant and refugee children by ripping them from their parent’s arms and stalling on a court order to reunite them.

Now she’s backing her anti-immigrant position up with a misrepresentation of scripture.

“I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee,'” White said yesterday. “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.”

Sorry Paula, but Jesus broke the law — repeatedly. He was the poster child for “lawless refugee.” King Herod sought to kill Jesus because he saw him as a political threat. Jesus escaped his grasp. Perhaps in Paula’s world Jesus’ parents should have submitted to local authorities.

I’m not sure Egypt was thrilled to have him either. Paula seems to have forgotten that little incident when Jesus’ people broke laws to flee Pharaoh’s decree.

Jesus regularly broke laws that were unGodly. He healed on the Sabbath. He overturned tables in the Temple. He emphasized compassion over and sometimes against the law of his day. He was executed by the Roman Empire for claiming to be the “King of the Jews.”

God has repeatedly told Jews to remember the suffering of their ancestors as refugees and outcasts and to treat others with compassion. Christians inherit this ethic, and Jesus embodied it. “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). Jesus was the incarnation of that law.

Paula’s ludicrous, scripture-based defense of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance policy comes in the wake of massive outcry from Christians that the criminalization of immigrants seeking safety is immoral and inhumane. Trump’s religious advisors are clearly on the defensive.

I led a delegation of top women religious leaders from throughout the country to the border. We represented thousands of religious communities horrified by what the Trump Administration is doing to children. What we saw was traumatized children. Young people who had been so mistreated that they were physically ill and in need of medical treatment. Parents weeping for their kids.

A church in Indiana’s symbolic protest — putting the Holy Family in a cage on their front lawn — recently went viral. Catholic Bishops just paid a visit to the border to protest. Several hundred theologians and ethicists — even evangelical ones like Paula — condemned these policies.

Trump’s religious advisors know they have no moral ground to stand on. So they lie about scripture. They lie about why immigrants are coming here. And they lie demonizing migrants as criminals. They even lie about Jesus. Shame!

Paula tries to portray detention centers as a walk in the park. Yet Bethany Christian Services, a foster agency that is caring for immigrant children separated from their families said, “It is never OK to separate a child from its family when they are seeking asylum.”

How can one even begin to think it is moral to separate a child from a parent just for trying to get to safety or better life?

We’ve seen this before when we jailed Japanese citizens and when we enslaved African Americans. We had our rationales then too. We separated their families and we justified it with scripture and racist myths. We will not let it happen again.

Nice try Paula White but you don’t know Jesus as well as you think you do. Jesus is on the side of those seeking asylum. He was once a refugee.

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  • Don Lowery

    Hopefully soon…the gravy train those like Paula White and other have been riding will be over when the tax exemption for their country clubs from hell are revoked and they start paying their fair share for being this shameful in the public square.

  • mkmangold

    Paula White seems to be confused. There were no “national boundaries” (as we think of them now) in ancient times. This is a modern invention, an outcome of the escape from Medieval mindsets during the Renaissance. While Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment thinkers were original and creative, they were also captive of the mentality that nation-states represent God’s will.
    Remember this: Yahweh did not want the Israelites to have a king. I don’t care if it is David, Solomon, Ahab, Jehoshaphat, or Herod, no king represents God’s will. We, the Children of God, do. If you have to have a biblical reference for your defense of kidnapping, assault, battery, and abuse, please study the OT prophets first. Them dudes and gals knew quite a lot about injustice.

  • Lots to consider in the opening salvo:
    “Jesus regularly broke laws that were unGodly. He healed on the Sabbath. He overturned tables in the Temple. He emphasized compassion over and sometimes against the law of his day. He was executed by the Roman Empire for claiming to be the “King of the Jews.”
    Jesus healed on the Sabbath in defiance of “Jewish” law – correct. Tables? not sure that was a civil issue? But he was executed by the authority of the Roman governor on the urging of the Jews for claiming to be God not King.

    “How can one even begin to think it is moral to separate a child from a parent just for trying to get to safety or better life?” This is just the efforts of the Left to try and get something to stick to Trump which they have not done.Trump is not responsible for the current state of the immigration system but he will solve it and most on this site won’t like it.

    “We’ve seen this before when we jailed Japanese citizens and when we enslaved African Americans. We had our rationales then too. We separated their families and we justified it with scripture and racist myths. We will not let it happen again.” Yes and we have seen this ramping up as the midterms approach and the Democrats are in a panic. #WalkAway

  • Everett Kier Jr

    I would enjoy laughing at this exchange but I think both White and Butler are really serious their arguments are weighty and solid. This is conversation is absurd. To take the time to dissent might give some credibility….

  • Ron

    I think your comment about borders seems to justify White’s position better than that of the author, Rev. Jen Butler. As you are aware our present problem is the large populations of people entering the country improperly (illegally). I know – it is not illegal to seek asylum but it is illegal to enter the country at other than a port of entry and/or without proper documents. Keep in mind, I believe, about 5000 children were dumped on the border at one time and that doesn’t include the adults. Also consider that bus loads of adults stormed the border with their children having no money, no place to stay,and no way to feed their children, saying here I am deal with it! Instead of dumping on the Border Patrol and Immigration, lets share the responsibilities.

    Yes, Yahweh discouraged the Israelites from wanting a king but He did allow it. Israel was not without government before the kings: Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and then the kings. BTW. I am not an administration supporter. I am what you might consider a moderate Democrat.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    There were not exactly national boundaries but some civilizations (most notably Egypt) did have systems severely limiting individuals freedom to travel. In Egypt a person could not travel more than a few miles even to visit the neighboring town without written permission from the local government officials. This makes it particularly noteworthy that the Law of Moses does not allow any such restrictions.

    In the time of Christ Egypt was was part of the Roman Empire (as was Judea) but it considered the personal property of the Emperor. It was illegal even for Roman citizens to visit Egypt without the proper Imperial documents granting them permission.

  • raven nevermore

    Butler sounds like any bonehead community organiser, except she is dressed up as a minister – something like a double-barrelled shotgun – spreads the intellectual bigotry (narrow mindedness) far and wide. There is nothing wrong with zero tolerance, since a country that does not defend its border will not stand together.