Christmas, Christians, and Immigration
In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared debunks the myth of what Christian approaches to immigration should look like, particularly in light of the Holy Family at the center of our Christmas celebrations. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1, WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am.
The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.
This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith.
One of my favorite things to do this year with my wife and four-year-old daughter has been to drive around the area and see some of the amazing Christmas decorations that our residents have put up. Truth be told, if I was in charge of it, my house would be about as decorated as that of Clark Griswold. But marriage involves compromise and so I try hard to kind of hold myself back.
Of course, the central part of many decorations, particularly at churches, is the nativity scene. In this artistic depiction, we see Mary and Joseph around a manger, a feeding trough really, where the baby Jesus lies asleep. Often these images of the Holy Family are surrounded by shepherds and angels and sometimes even the wisemen… though the feast of the wisemen is not really until Epiphany on January 6 (and biblical scholars think their visit was probably to a toddler Jesus instead of the infant), but I digress.
All of this focus on the holy family raises some interesting questions for today’s Christian. Because if we can resist the temptation to sentimentalize the Holy Family, I think we will find in them a profound critique of contemporary American Christianity… particularly when it comes to immigration. So, this week I’d like to take a moment and bust to the myth about Christians and immigration policy, particularly looking at it through the lens of the Holy Family
After the beauty and joy of the Christmas story, we learn of the murderous rage of King Herod, who was afraid this newborn Messiah will threaten his throne. And so, Herod commits an act of genocide, killing a bunch of children. The father of Jesus, Joseph, is warned in a dream about this violence and so the Holy Family flees to Egypt.
That is right, faced with a violent political situation at home they flee to another country for safety. They are political refugees and their flight under the cover of night means that they probably resonate much more with undocumented immigrants in our own country than many Christians realize.
In my own church, Episcopal Migration Ministries has supported immigrants and migrants of all kinds for decades. This ministry dates back to the 1930s, when our church works to resettle people fleeing Nazi Europe. A poster from 1938 that our church put out shows an image of the Holy Family fleeing Egypt. At the top of the poster it said, “In the name of these refugees” and at the bottom, “Aid all refugees.”
It’s very distressing to me that so much of American Christianity has been co-opted by nativism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, to the point that the supposedly conservative Christian viewpoint is to restrict immigration, and many Christian supporters of the current administration were in favor of its drastic reduction in the number of refugees our country would accept… a shameful change in our policies.
This is not only un-American—after all unless your blood comes from native people ...