Scriptural illiteracy

Not a refugee I know it’s nit picking, and I don’t disagree with the sentiment behind it, but the current internet fad for memes relating the Christmas story to the refugee crisis is really starting to get on my wick. If you want to make a point about people of a religion not following the spirit of that religion it might just possibly be a good idea to make sure you’ve read the scripture that you’re basing your oh so clever meme on.

So this whole, the Christmas story is about refugee’s thing, well it’s nonsense. The manger part of the nativity story is only found in the Gospel of Luke, and that says:
Luke 2:1-2:5
Now at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. so Joseph set out from the town of Nazereth in Galilee and traveled up to Judea, to the town of David called Bethlehem.

So not refugees fleeing anything, but more people suffering from government red tape. As advance booking wasn’t so much of a thing back then, and oddly Joseph had no family to stay with, they had to try their luck at whatever inn had room. Which turned out to be none. Still not refugee’s just people dealing with Government dictates and then rescued by private enterprise when ignoring all health and safety they were allowed to stay in a manager rather than in the streets. Today that inn would probably be shut down for allowing people to stay with animals and Jesus would have been taken into care as the parents were obviously unfit, allowing the birth to take place in such conditions. Also you’ll note that they traveled to take part in a census , widely believed to be related to taxation, so chances are Joseph was a tax payer and in later scripture Jesus did kind of say that one ought to pay ones taxes.

Of course if we turn to Matthew 2:13 Jesus, Mary and Joseph do become refugees, fleeing government persecution.
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “get up, take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him”.
Nothing is said about how they made a living during that time, but I think we can take a wild guess that it was via state support. Also worth noting is that they fled after he visit of the Magi which is traditionally on the 6th Jan. We are told nothing about how they coped in Egypt if they arrived as penniless refugees, or if Joseph took the tools of his trade and arrived as a migrant craftsman. Oh and Joseph was a carpenter something which is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels so not exactly jobless.

So if you’re going to have a meme based on scripture do actually read the scripture. Suggesting that people should look out for those less fortunate, and that this is especially relevant around this time of year is an excellent point, but this sort of appeal to scripture really misses the mark. Also it would be worth noting that in most religions any act of kindness should be voluntary rather than forced, so maybe taking collections and working with charities may be the way to go rather than insisting that the state force everyone to chip in regardless?

This meme I’d give it 3/10 for getting anything right and 6/10 for sentiment

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