TJ Roberts of Liberty Hangout is upset that leftists are claiming that Jesus was a refugee. While I certainly don’t support the idea that governments should move people, including refugees, around how they see fit, I also do not support governments preventing refugees from moving around either. I’m not exactly sure what Roberts’ point is with this, but regardless, his claim is false. Jesus was a refugee.
He acknowledges that Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph (the Holy Family) fled to Egypt following orders from King Herod that every male under the age of two be killed. Herod had heard that a “king” had been born in Bethlehem and wanted to eliminate the threat to his crown. But Roberts says that this would not qualify Jesus as a refugee:
According to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, a refugee is “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
The 1951 definition of a refugee might not be the best one to use for an event that happened about 2000 years ago. Modern political arrangements are considerably different than the structure of the Roman Empire. The homeland of Jesus was under the occupation of Rome. No Jew would identify as a Roman—they mostly hated them. It’s not very accurate to act as though Egypt and Judea were to the Roman Empire as Utah and Missouri are to the United States. Roberts’ claim that “Jesus never left the country of his nationality” is bunk.
If you ask anyone if they would consider a refugee as someone who was escaping a government that was trying to kill him, he would undoubtedly say yes. Let’s not get so technical that it negates the obvious.
But the main reason that Roberts claims that Jesus was not a refugee is this:
The holy family was not “unable” or “unwilling” to return to Nazareth. They did return to Nazareth according to Matthew 2:19-23.
Herod had ordered that every male two years and younger in the region be killed—specifically so that he could kill Jesus (despite not knowing who his actual target was). That’s a good reason for Mary and Joseph to be “unable” or “unwilling” to return. And they certainly didn’t just decide on a whim to return. Roberts gives us the passage, Matthew 2:19-23, describing their exit from Egypt. Let’s read it.
When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”
It is abundantly clear that the reason the Holy Family returned home was because the threat against them no longer existed. They even had an angel tell them. It’s interesting that Roberts would miss this despite apparently being aware of it by providing the place in the Gospel to find it.
If you’re going to call the left “liars” and that they “bear false witness about the Christ to fulfill their narrative,” then you ought to make sure you have your facts straight. I’m not saying that the left doesn’t do those things, but it reflects very poorly when libertarians are hypocrites. Arguments should not be based on false information.
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