Saturday 5 December 2015

Jesus - Refugee Messiah

There's a lot of truth to this billboard graphic, posted outside St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Auckland (report here). It's being described as 'controversial', though it's hard to see what could possibly be controversial in a Christian community drawing the public's attention to an issue related to the core values that Christians are supposed to uphold.

Jesus' family were, lest we forget, once refugees themselves, according to a literal reading of the gospel narratives. Fleeing from Herod, they moved to Egypt for sanctuary. I briefly commented on this in a letter submitted to the upcoming issue of The Journal: News of the Churches of God, where such an act of compassion is apparently anathema to a large number of readers (see an earlier post here).

Bitter irony too in the Australian government's use of a distant locale known as "Christmas Island" as a detention centre for refugees.

(A nod of the noodle to the person, who I believe wishes to remain anonymous, who drew the billboard to my attention.)


  1. I've got to agree with you. It's ironic what many Christians actually stand for. It certainly doesn't reflect the teachings of Jesus according to the Gospels.

  2. Unfortunately, this appears to be one of our modern day moral traps, and I am not really sure as to the most effective way to deal with the potential problems. On one hand, these refugees face horrible conditions, death, or extreme torture if they were to remain in their own countries. Also, up until present times, the overwhelming majority of such refugees and immigrants have lived peacefully in their new countries and communities. It has been thought that the second generation nearly always immediately becomes "Americanized" (or pick another country, depending on where they have landed). Just as the criminal elements of any immigrant community prey on their own (mafia on Italians, Tongs and Triads on Chinese, Yakuza on Japanese, and coyotes and drug cartels on Mexicans), the jihadists prey on the peaceful Muslims. The difference is that the criminals amongst the other groups mentioned are generally attempting to take a shortcut around several years or decades of poverty, whereas the jihadists are attempting to impose their extreme religious philosophy on the entire world.

    Recently, in Boston and San Bernardino, and in our own military, people who were thought to have been totally Americanized somehow became recruited to the jihadist cause, and did catastrophic damage, apparently undetectable during the germination period when something could have been done to preempt the events. These events unfortunately raise suspicion about all of the others of the same basic ethnicities who are currently living peacefully amongst us.

    If there is any sort of modern parallel, I would guess that it would have to be the Marielito boat lift, in which Fidel Castro "spiked" the refugees with dangerous criminals from the Cuban jails. As a country, the USA welcomed the refugees, but went through a process of attempts in identifying the criminals amongst them before they could do any damage. Again, even this model fails, because the Cuban criminals were not predisposed towards mass murder for causes rooted in ideology. They were simple thieves, rapists, and murderers. But, it would appear that in the case of the Arabic or Muslim refugees, about the only humane way to handle this involves providing sanctuary for the vast majority, but exercising due diligence in processing them, weeding out the ones who pose obvious security risks, and then apprehending and punishing those who offend. You can't just let the peaceful ones and their young children die at the hands of the extremists in their own country. You have to try to do something on their behalf, and then deal with problems individually. That has been the American way, and also predominantly the Christian way.