On Christmas Day, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice) continued his campaign strategy of attacking the religious right as insincere Christians. He took the opportunity to repeat the tired old canard that Jesus Christ was a “refugee” — an argument liberals use to weaponize Christmas against the Trump administration.
“Today I join millions around the world in celebrating the arrival of divinity on earth, who came into this world not in riches but in poverty, not as a citizen but as a refugee,” Mayor Pete tweeted. “No matter where or how we celebrate, merry Christmas.”
Today I join millions around the world in celebrating the arrival of divinity on earth, who came into this world not in riches but in poverty, not as a citizen but as a refugee.
No matter where or how we celebrate, merry Christmas.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 25, 2019
Many Christians pushed back against Mayor Pete’s claims that Jesus was both poor and a non-citizen refugee.
“When did you come up with THAT load of crap? Joseph was NOT a poor man, and Jesus did NOT come into this world as a refugee from heaven. Please stop,” black pastor Darrell Scott, CEO of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, tweeted in response.
“Who came into this world not in riches, but in poverty, not as a citizen, but as a refugee”? When did you come up with THAT load of crap? Joseph was NOT a poor man, and Jesus did NOT come into this world as a refugee from heaven. Please stop.
— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) December 26, 2019
Catholic reality TV actress Mindy Robinson countered, “He was born exactly where his family came from, there was a mandatory census at the time. This literally makes Jesus the opposite of a ‘refugee’ but ok, bub.”
He was born exactly where his family came from, there was a mandatory census at the time. This literally makes Jesus the opposite of a “refugee” but ok, bub. 👌🏻
— Mindy Robinson 🇺🇸 (@iheartmindy) December 25, 2019
Mayor Pete was right to say Jesus was not a Roman citizen, but the modern citizen-legal/immigrant-illegal distinction is not applicable to first-century Judea. Christians are divided on the question of whether Jesus was rich or poor, and some argue that Jesus became a refugee because Joseph took Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape King Herod’s slaughter of children.
However, Egypt — like Judea — was a Roman province at the time, so the journey would have been less like crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and more like crossing from New York to Pennsylvania. Furthermore, there were no immigration laws because Egypt and Judea did not have welfare states or voter registration.
Even if Jesus can be considered a refugee in Egypt, Buttigieg was 100 percent false in saying the Son of God “came into the world … as a refugee.”
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his family’s ancestral home, because Caesar Augustus had demanded a census, and Joseph was descended from King David. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but Bethlehem was not a foreign land for His family.
Joseph and Mary went to their ancestral home in Bethlehem for a census. In no sense did Jesus “come into this world as a refugee.” There’s also no reason to think that Joseph was particularly impoverished. So nothing about this tweet is correct. https://t.co/KNOCzvb4dc
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) December 26, 2019
In his highly inaccurate tweet, Buttigieg was echoing a common liberal talking point. Last year, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) suggested President Donald Trump’s wall would have prevented Jesus from finding refuge in Egypt. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Grow Yucca in NYC) shared an icon of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as Hispanic refugees. This year, a California church put Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in cages in a nativity scene display. Ironically, the infamous photos of “kids in cages” by the border came from 2014 under the Obama administration, not under Trump.
Gutierrez, AOC, the California church, and now Mayor Pete are all trying to use Christmas as a trump card to circumvent the messy immigration debate. Christians should love and serve all people, including illegal immigrants. But that does not mean the American government should be unable to bring peace to the border and to enforce immigration law — the same immigration law that legal immigrants abide by.
Politicizing Christmas is quite fitting with Buttigieg’s rhetorical style, however. He has repeatedly declared that those who disagree with his policy positions are somehow not really Christian.
In July, he said, “So-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when scripture says, ‘Whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.'” Opposing a minimum wage increase does not make someone an “oppressor.”
In September, Buttigieg declared that refusing to fight climate change is “a kind of sin.”
Mayor Pete has decided to lecture conservative Christians for supporting Trump — admittedly a prideful and sinful person, but one who upholds their religious freedom and protects the lives of unborn babies. When it comes to abortion, Buttigieg has shamefully twisted scripture to suggest that “life begins with breath.”
In November, he said that salvation depends on being “useful,” a heretical rejection of God’s grace. It may not be surprising to hear such heresy from a man who takes pride in his homosexual identity and “marriage” to another man — despite the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexual activity — but Mayor Pete’s smug sermonizing on every issue under the sun gives the lie to his personable campaign style.
Buttigieg comes off as an educated and friendly guy, promising a new approach to politics. His decision to speak openly about his faith is new and refreshing on the Democratic side, but it’s a pity he seems so ignorant about what Christianity and the Bible actually teach. Rather than listening to those who disagree, he brands them incorrect and morally inferior.
Mayor Pete’s decision to paint Jesus as a refugee is yet another indication that faith is a political weapon for him — to be used against his enemies on Christmas Day.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.