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December 11, 2019

No, the Nativity Is Not About Immigration

Leftist church displays nativity scene with Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus all in cages.

It’s no longer uncommon during the Christmas season to hear stories of “offended” leftists complaining over a publicly displayed Nativity scene. Often the “offended” people dubiously argue that the display infringes on the Constitution’s prohibition against government sanctioning of religion. The truth is the display of Jesus’ birth has little to do with politics; nor does it seek to force anyone into believing something against their will. The real offense to these leftists is the fact that there are Christians who are free to publicly share and display their faith, and remind everyone who cares to listen what Christmas is truly all about.

However, there are instances when a church’s message is more about politics than Scripture. A recent example comes via Claremont United Methodist Church in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. This past Saturday, the church began displaying an intentionally provocative Nativity scene in which Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus are separated — each in their own chain-link cage topped with barbwire. “Our intent is to focus on the asylum seekers and the ways they are being greeted and treated and to suggest there might be a more compassionate way to show God’s love,” explained the church’s pastor, Rev. Karen Ristine. She added, “I think as Christians we have a responsibility to proclaim a narrative that might be counter to what the world thinks.”

In an attempt to justify likening Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to the Central American migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S. southern border, Ristine points to the fact that the Holy Family fled to Egypt after being warned of King Herod’s desire to find and kill Jesus. Therefore, to leftists the point of Christmas is the promotion of leftist open borders and lawlessness. It appears that the reverend’s political inclinations are informing her beliefs, rather than Scripture guiding her worldview.

How about displaying the Nativity with the goal of directing people back to the historical Biblical account that transcends all earthly and temporal political concerns? How about addressing infinitely more important questions of who Jesus is and why He came in the first place? Furthermore, regarding the issue of immigration in the current U.S. context, the Biblical account of Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt with Jesus fails to support leftist “just let everyone in” agenda. Notice that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem obeying a decree by Roman Caesar Augustus, who had ordered all residents of his empire to go to their ancestral home towns to register for his census. When Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt, as they were directed to do by God via a dream, they fled as genuine refugees, and there is no indication that their action was in any way illegal.

Why continue to perpetuate the lie that only the Trump administration engaged in temporarily separating children from adults, when the Obama administration did exactly the same thing? Why ignore the fact that the separation of families is no longer practiced? Are Ristine and her fellow travelers really interested in telling the truth of Scripture, or are they more concerned with peddling an anti-Trump narrative?

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