Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Conservative Christians and the Trump refugee policy

One bellwether of Christian Right opinion and commentary is the conservative Christian Post.

So what kind of stories are they running on Trump's anti-immigrant and anti-refugee ban, which to many Christians looks like a fundamental rejection of the Christian notion of the Good Samaritan and the last shall be first, and so on. And, as Joan Taylor of King's College London reminded us a couple of years ago, Jesus was a Refugee according to the Gospel of Matthew. (The Jesus Blog 09/07/2015)

The story in Matthew about Jesus' family's flight to Egypt is unlikely. And Kind Gerod's massacre of the babies from which they supposedly were fleeing has never been historically confirmed and is also unlikely. But the story is very much a part of the Christian tradition. (Although Taylor's article is more open to the possibility of a historical basis for the story.) And this is a valid observation:

The legacy of being a refugee and a newcomer to a place far from home is something that I think informed Jesus’s teaching. When he set off on his mission, he took up the life of a displaced person with ‘nowhere to lay his head’ (Matthew 8.20; Luke 9.58). He asked those who acted for him to go out without a bag or a change of clothing, essentially to walk along the road like destitute refugees who had suddenly fled, relying on the generosity and hospitality of ordinary people whose villages they entered (Mark 6.8-11; Matthew 10.9-11; Luke 9.3). It was the villagers’ welcome or not to such poor wanderers that showed what side they were on: ‘And if any place will not receive you and refuse to hear you, shake off the dust on your feet when you leave, for a testimony to them’ (Mark 6.11).
But today's Christian Post headlines reflect more of a white Christianist perspective.

There's Christian Right star Eric Metaxas, keeping the focus on persecuted Christians in Christians Not Welcome in India 01/31/2017. The Trumpist position, of course, is that the US should give a religious preference to persecuted Christians in our refugee policy. And Metaxas' Christian witness the week after Trump's xenophobia refugee ban targeted on Muslims is to promote the Trumpist position on Christian persecution. (India's current government does lean Hindu fundamentalist. But I don't consider Metaxas a good source on the factuals side of that story.)

The Christian Post also offers its readers an excuse to fear terrorist babies: Boko Haram Islamic Radicals Now Using Babies in Suicide Bombings: Officials by Stoyan Zaimov 01/25/2017. Trump's ban was announced two days afterwards but the headline is still features on the CP front webpage as of this writing. And I would caution anyone from taking the facts at face value as they are presented by a Christian Post story.

Then there's Susan Stamper Brown writing, Leftists' Heads Explode in Response to Keeping America Safe 01/30/2017. Guess what position she takes on immigration and refugees! She also writes in a post-fact mode with a revealing authoritarian picture of democratic and Constitutional legitimacy in America:

In my home, my father's word was law. When Dad said "no" he meant no. Throwing temper tantrums didn't help. In fact, it made things worse. It's obvious to me that America has suffered from a significant shortage of alpha male leadership in families, based on the number of people losing their minds over a true leader occupying the White House.

Leftists can chuck bricks, throw rocks, and start fires all they want, but Trump will still be president when they wake the next morning.
Well, there was a deadly fire started at a mosque in Canada, with a far-right extremist charged with murder in the case. I guess I missed the rock-throwing, brick chucking and fire starting at the airport protests over the weekend. Or maybe the Christian Post isn't much worried about fact-checking their columnists.

Michael Brown is also upset that Americans are protesting Dear Leader Trump's immigration ban, 5 Things Bothering Me About the Response to Trump's Executive Order on Refugees 01/30/2017. Does Brown support the Muslim ban? Check. Is he down with prioritizing Christian refugees in violation of the Constitution and international law? Check. Does he echo rank Trumpist propaganda about how the Muslim ban isn't a Muslim ban? Check. But he does resort to the mealy-mouthing common to Christian Right commentators by implying but not stating straightforwardly that the implementation of Dear Leader Trump's righteous ban-that's-not-a-ban may have been flawed: "One can be upset over the initial implementation of the order while still defending the order itself." But he does suggest that maybe sometime in the future there might be a case in which conservative Christians may not want to criticized Dear Leader quite so much: "I'm not saying that he has acted wrongly (although, as is self-evident, the implementation of his order was terribly messy and unnecessarily confusing). I'm saying that we can't simply have a gut level reaction of defending the president against all criticism, even if, in some (many?) cases, he is being unjustly accused."

I'll conclude by mentioning this article by Samuel Smith, Trump vs. Obama Refugee Ban: 9 Things You Need to Know 01/30/2017. The article ends with, "Next are nine things that readers must keep in mind when comparing Trump's executive order to the actions of the Obama administration." But none are, you know, actually listed. At least the way the story appears on my screen at this writing. But in what does appear, he calls attention to what he calls "hypocrisies in how the mainstream media and activist groups are responding to Trump's order, noting they did not voice outrage over similar measures taken by the Obama administration to increase scrutiny and precautions regarding visitors and immigrants from countries of concern."

I'm guessing the Christian Post editors aren't really down with this whole Jesus the Refugee thing.

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