Jesus’s Refugee Status Biblically Examined

As per the norm, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) said some pretty stupid stuff, on Christmas no less. Apparently it’s not beneath her to ineffectively use baby Jesus as a pawn to advance her leftist immigration policies. Below is her first tweet. Try to figure out where she went wrong.

AOC Christmas Tweet

Her “including refugee babies in mangers + their parents” inclusion was obviously a direct reference to Jesus. Given that it was a Merry Christmas tweet, it’s pretty unambiguous what her message was. She believes that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were refugees at the time of Christ’s birth and those who oppose her particular position on immigration now would have opposed Jesus, Mary, and Joseph then due to our “anti-immigrant” policies. So, is she correct? Were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph refugees at the time of Christ’s birth? The answer is no. Nice try, AOC.

Luke 2 gives the historical context for why they were traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Does this sound like a family fleeing persecution? Verse five states clearly that “He (Joseph) went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Joseph and his family were lawfully following the decree put in place by Caesar Augustus to participate in the census. Joseph and Mary were being responsible citizens of the Roman Empire by following the law. This flies in the face of the unlawful approach to immigration policy that AOC has fervently adopted. If AOC would have read and prayed on this scripture with more attention to detail, she would have noticed the political example that it gives to law-abiding citizens.

Of course, I was far from the only one to notice the Biblical ignorance. Once she started getting slammed with Tweets about her theological ignorance, she then Tweeted out something else to try to save some face. Unfortunately for her, she tweeted out an article that didn’t directly address the Nativity story at all.

AOC Christmas defense tweet

Without notice, AOC redirects her followers from Luke 2 to Matthew 2, where the story changes from the Nativity story of Christ’s birth to shortly after the birth of Christ. Matthew 2:13-14 states, “13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  AOC’s slight of hand transition from referring to Jesus as a “refugee baby in a manager” to depicting Jesus and his family as refugees hitting the road to Egypt to avoid murder without historical context is dishonest. Within the historical context of Matthew 2, Jesus and his family were refugees.

I don’t expect her to know all the fine nuanced details of the Bible. I honestly don’t. However, if you’re a public figure in a congressional seat at a federal level and you misuse the Christian texts to advance your political agenda, I think everyone with a voice should call you out. Many people, like me, who have spent many years studying theology and politics, shake our heads at the level of ignorance someone like AOC has for the level of office that she holds. It’s bad enough that the first tweet was as historically flawed as it was but to follow up it with content that didn’t support or clarify her first claim and deceptively redirected her followers to a period of time where Jesus was a refugee is not appropriate for someone in her position. It makes you wonder whether she bothered to read the article, yet even more bothersome a prospect, whether she’s even bothered to read the Gospels.

As Christians, we should always extend grace whenever possible to a non-Christian’s lack of knowledge of the Word. However, we should also keep in mind that people in positions of power wield greater influence. When someone like AOC spreads misinformation, it’s important to correct the misinformation publicly. Was AOC wrong about baby Jesus in his manger being a refugee? Yes. Her second tweet redirected her followers to a different part of the Bible where Jesus was a refugee following the nativity story. Both tweets should be addressed as much as possible to help people understand the Biblical story of Christ better but also to help people come to grips with the reality that supporting a strong immigration policy isn’t equivalent to saying your position on immigration would have killed our newborn Savior.

This sort of politicking is irresponsible, immature, and deceptive. AOC was attempting to tug at the theological heartstrings of her Twitter followers to win support for her side of the immigration debate. Misusing Christian history at Christmas is immoral and should be condemned. Going into the new year, we should strive to be authentic in all that we do. While we should accept the reality that we’re imperfect, we should proudly strive to be as Christ-like as possible in our approach to life.

The Case for “Merry Christmas”

As I’ve made it clear in past writings, I’m a strong orthodox conservative Christian. I say “Merry Christmas” to everyone during the Christmas season at risk of potentially offending someone who might prefer being wished a “happy holidays.” Something as pure and wholesome as celebrating Christmas has been under attack for decades by the left for its alleged lack of inclusivity. While a very large majority of Americans celebrate Christmas as a national and/or religious holiday, many still find themselves on the fence about whether they should say “Merry Christmas” or “happy holidays”. I assure you that the benefits of wishing Merry Christmas to someone far outweigh the negative consequences.

Prominent Jewish conservative figurehead Dennis Prager of PragerU lays out why the “war on Christmas” isn’t a mere fabrication of the paranoid conservative mind. As Prager rightly points out, leftists are campaigning for the secularization of America as a whole. That’s why they strive to secularize traditional Christmas greetings because they understand how culture is impacted through deceptively changing language. Slowly removing Christmas from the vocabulary of the culture will result in a more secularized culture. I have friends who don’t identify as Christians yet happily celebrate Christmas because it is an embedded American tradition. Like Dennis Prager, they celebrate Christmas because it’s recognized as an American holiday while not celebrating it as a holy day. At the same time, Prager doesn’t disregard the religious significance of the holiday to Christians. He recognizes the sacred meaning of Christmas among those that claim a Christian worldview.

Allowing the incremental secularization to chip away at how Christmas is viewed and celebrated would be a great disservice to our country. Christmas is a period of time where reflection, giving, love, and reconciliation are often present in our minds. For Christians, the theological significance of Christmas plays through our hearts and minds as we read through the nativity story in the gospels. We all seem to find something to be thankful for when the story of Christmas is present in our lives. The term ‘holiday’ doesn’t carry the same weight as ‘Christmas’ because it doesn’t have the same transcendent meaning.

Disguising ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘happy holidays’ at the same time of year we always wish people a ‘Merry Christmas’ is a leftist ruse. People who attempt to claim that wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’ is insensitive to the minority of people who don’t celebrate Christmas fail to recognize the importance and permanence that Christmas has played on a global scale for much longer than they’ve been alive.

Since leftists typically campaign on the basis of “tolerance”, you’d think that tolerance would be charitably extended to the majority of individuals who enjoy the Christmas season and would like to be wished a “Merry Christmas.” Sadly, the limit of tolerance is breached the moment opposition is encountered in too many instances. For the leftist, it would be tolerant to remain politely neutral and not say anything other than “thank you” when someone kindly wishes them a ‘Merry Christmas.’ I’m sure many leftists do behave in this way but there are those that campaign against Christmas fervently enough to cause the switch from ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘happy holidays.’

The case is simple. The only reason ‘happy holidays’ is a thing is because of Christmas. We know that ‘happy holidays’ is a code word for ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s time to take the mask off this secularized terminology and start fully embracing Christmas again by wishing our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers a “MERRY CHRISTMAS” again.