Several experts agree that Jesus was indeed a refugee, as confirmed by scripture. However, right-wing conservative Matt Walsh needed a little bit of convincing.
With the tumultuous year we have had in the United States, with all the saddening, terrible news about children in cages and forced family separations, Christmas was a time to remind ourselves — amidst all the immigration fear and outrage — that Jesus, too, was a refugee. However, as one would expect, one right-wing conservative was not ready to accept this narrative. After Matt Walsh, who was once described by The Daily Wire as "one of the religious Right’s most influential young voices," tried to claim Jesus was not born a refugee on Twitter, he was pretty much schooled by Jack Jenkins, a religion and politics news reporter for Religion News Services.
Walsh was responding to Democratic political candidate Pete Buttigieg's tweet wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. The candidate posted, 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. To this, the conservative "influencer," replied, 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.
And that is precisely when Jenkins decided to take argumentative Walsh to church. Instead of simply spewing about his own opinions and ideas, the news reporter had pretty substantial evidence to back his point of view up. He argued, Hi! Religion reporter here. Christians who argue Jesus was a refugee are typically referring to what happened AFTER Jesus was born, when Mary, Joseph, and the newborn child fled to Egypt. This exegesis is easily Google-able. Or you could just, you know, read it in the Bible. Then, after sharing a link to an article written by Jesuit priest James Martin, added, Also, in case anyone is curious, Pope Benedict XVI was reportedly calling Jesus a refugee back in 2011. That’s relevant, as last I checked Matt Walsh identifies as Catholic.
Others, too, joined in on the beatdown of Walsh. Twitter user Getfiscal sarcastically noted, If Jesus had wanted people to think of him as a refugee, he would have simply said, 'In the far future there is a framework of international law around displaced persons and I would like to note that I am a refugee even if I do not match this legal definition at that time. Another added, I've worked with refugees coming into America [whose] national [governments weren't] necessarily trying to kill them... But their local power [structures were]. Maybe coming out of the ivory tower once in a while would help give perspective. Mic. Drop. If this wasn't enough to convince Walsh, then perhaps there's another, deeply hidden agenda he's trying to fulfill... Guess we'll never know. Either way, this iconic Twitter takedown was a timely and important reminder to love thy neighbor this holiday season — especially when they're fleeing violence and poverty, trying to gain entrance to a land of better opportunity. Now, does that story sound somewhat familiar? Hmm.