Governor Herod & Syrian Refugees

November 16, 2015

It seems the "War on Christmas" started today. More than twenty governors across the nation declared they would reject Syrian refugees from being allowed in their states. So much for celebrating birth of a refugee who also fled violence! 

Seeing all the governors attack Middle Eastern refugees reminded me of the title Clarence Jordan gave to Herod in the Cotton Patch Gospel translation of the New Testament: Governor. Ironically, many of these governors ran with campaign rhetoric about how their faith guides their politics. They either lied or haven't read the Bible very well.

Consider the difference in opinions between our governors and the Bible.

"Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt." Exodus 23:9

"Also do not pick your vineyard clean or gather up all the grapes that have fallen there. Leave these items for the poor and the immigrant; I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:10

"When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:33-34

"The land must not be permanently sold because the land is mine. You are just immigrants and foreign guests of mine." Leviticus 25:23

"[God] enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt." Deuteronomy 10:18-19

"Don’t take advantage of poor or needy workers, whether they are fellow Israelites or immigrants who live in your land or your cities. ... Don’t obstruct the legal rights of an immigrant or orphan." Deuteronomy 24:14,17

"'Cursed is anyone who obstructs the legal rights of immigrants, orphans, or widows.'All the people will reply: 'We agree!'" Deuteronomy 27:19

"The Lord: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows, but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!" Psalm 146:9

"No, if you truly reform your ways and your actions; if you treat each other justly; if you stop taking advantage of the immigrant, orphan, or widow; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this place, or go after other gods to your own ruin, only then will I dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave long ago to your ancestors for all time." Jeremiah 7:5-7

"The important people of the land have practiced extortion and have committed robbery. They’ve oppressed the poor and mistreated the immigrant. They’ve oppressed and denied justice." Ezekiel 22:29

"When you distribute the land as an inheritance, the immigrants who reside with you and raise families among you are considered full citizens along with the Israelites. ... This is what the Lord God says." Ezekiel 47:22-23

Both lists could go on ... more governors against refugees and more scriptures for refugees. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, even went so far as to say he'd reject Syrian "3-year-old orphans" from entering. That's pretty close to a biblical standard. King (or Governor) Herod was scared of 2-year-olds. And his murderous violence sent Jesus, Joseph, and Mary fleeing as refugees. Sadly, we've already seen what can happen to 3-year-old Syrian refugees.

It's almost time to declare, "'Tis the Season."  Unfortunately, it seems many governors are getting their festival spirit from the wrong Christmas character.

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