Making America great again was largely about building a wall. Indeed, we have all seen footage of Trump rallies with large contingents of white conservative Christians shouting, “Build the wall!” Those with would be one side and those without the other (political refugees included).
And that wall – impossible pipedream as it was – would have been a tangible attempt to thwart the movement of genuine refugees seeking asylum from South American nations such as Honduras to the new land of milk and honey.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”from Emma Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus,” reproduced on the Statue of Liberty
There is not much concern in the voices of the rally attendees in their shouts, their demands to build the wall. Little empathy for those less well-off, those who have endured, those who have been persecuted, and those simply wanting what we all want for ourselves and our families: hope and opportunity.
I don’t for one minute believe the words of the Gospel of Matthew in its nativity account opening. So much so, indeed, that I have written a book debunking the nativity accounts.
But God-fearing, MAGA merchandise-enrobed conservative Christians most certainly do.
What do we find there? We find Herod the Great, client king of Judea, murdering innocent children in the search for his political enemy – the upstart Messiah-king. This forces the family to flee from persecution and oppression, escaping to safety in Egypt, where they stay for several years.
Of course, the story is nowhere to be found in the other nativity account at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. This other recounting of the story fails to include the magi, the Star of Bethlehem, and the king of the nation murdering babies and chasing the unfortunate family out of the country, later returning to fulfill a Messianic prophecy.
It’s rather odd to neglect to record those events, wouldn’t you say?
It’s also rather spurious to neglect the idea that Jesus and family were homeless and yearning to breathe free.
The author of Matthew was keen to present Jesus as the new Moses, so the parallels with Jesus coming out of Egypt as the Hebrews did to escape bondage were entirely intentional.
Perhaps the MAGA-infused evangelicals are wary given what the refugees of the Exodus ended up doing (but that they eagerly support in the biblical context): escaping bondage to come to the land of their freedom, whereupon they sacked cities, stole land, and evicted the inhabitants.
And by evicted, I mean killed, enslaved, and raped.
The Bible’s a funny old book (where the word “funny” can be defined as “morally abhorrent, full of contradictions, and wildly inconsistent”).
Imagine Joseph and Mary, with a newborn baby (the Messiah, no less), getting to the Egyptian border and finding a giant wall. Hot on their heels, Herod and his innocent-slaughtering soldiers are now salivating at the prospect of thwarting the entirety of Christianity.
“What Would Jesus Do?” they ask. Would he wear a MAGA hat, drape himself in a flag, and shout for a wall to be erected? Or would he love his neighbor and regale listeners with stories of good Samaritans?
I think you know the answer.
But do they?