For Republicans, if not for most of the rest of us, it matters whether Jesus of Nazareth was a refugee himself, as stated by Al Sharpton in a tweet. You can see the ramifications of the answer to this even if you are a nonbeliever. Asking “Is Al Sharpton right that Jesus is a refugee?” the Fox crew somehow bizarrely concludes his family fled Judea to pay taxes in Egypt, which isn’t at all what the Bible says.
Media Matters’ Craig Harrington caught this debate on Fox & Friends, the one place in the universe (outside now of the White House) you are guaranteed to find no intelligent conversation:
— Craig Harrington (@Craigipedia) January 31, 2017
Here’s the thing: whether Jesus was a refugee depends on which gospel you read, like a great many other facts about Jesus’ life. Only Matthew mentions it. Mark, Luke, and John are silent. But if Jesus was a refugee, then how can the Religious Right dominated GOP ignore refugees?
This is the point raised by Pope Francis in 2014, when he said,
“We believe that Jesus was a refugee, had to flee to save his life, with Saint Joseph and Mary, had to leave for Egypt. He was a refugee. Let us pray to Our Lady who knows the pain of refugees.”
In fact, the panel on Fox & Friends reject the Pope and the Bible both out of hand, demonstrating once again that the loss of Elizabeth Hasselbeck did nothing to raise the show’s collective IQ:
Instead, they portray Jesus’ family as good tax-payers, implying that his family went to Egypt to pay taxes, which is not at all what the Bible says, and by that, I mean not one single one of the four gospels:
BRIAN KILMEADE: Is Al Sharpton right that Jesus is a refugee?
CARLEY SHIMKUS: Well so — let’s talk about his tweet first. On Sunday he tweeted, “Before you head to church today, remember to thank God for his son Jesus a refugee who fled to Egypt.
STEVE DOOCY: Well that’s not exactly accurate.
SHIMKUS: Well, according to the Bible, it’s really not. And a lot of people on social media had something to say about that. MC wrote, “umm his parents weren’t refugees.They traveled to pay their taxes. Please Al.” And then Brian, he made it personal. He wrote, “He paid his taxes unlike you. Different times, no comparison. He also returned to his home.” As you can imagine, the criticism continues to roll on in.
How fortunate for the GOP that Fox & Friends can pick and choose passages to believe and disregard and conflate the rest into entirely new facts. Alternate facts. A brand new Gospel of Fox News.
It is important to note again that this account exists only in Matthew but it does exist, contrary to Doocy & Co. The other Gospels do not record it but if even one of them does, then making the claim is accurate. Republicans have no problem picking and choosing other passages that exist only in one or another gospel while absent from the rest.
Sources outside the Bible leave the question more problematic. The Jewish historian Josephus does not mention it, nor any Roman historian, and many modern scholars reject it. The historical record, contrary to the Gospel of Matthew, shows that Herod killed his own children. There is no record of him killing all the babies in the kingdom.
There is another side to this question: the alleged plot by Herod to kill Jesus has been seen as an anti-Semitic storyline used to show that it was the Gentiles who accepted the truth of Jesus’ identity and go on to worship him, while the Jews reject and try to kill him.