According to a story published in the 12/9/19 edition of USA Today, a Methodist church in California erected a Nativity depicting Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as detained refugees. Apparently, this is not the first time the congregation has utilized what ought to be a reverent display to propagandize on behalf of a faddish social cause.
According to the pastrix, the previous year's addressed the California homeless crisis. The 2019 version wanted the beholding to imagine Mary, Joseph, and Jesus separated at a Trumpian detention center in juxtaposition with the presupposition that “Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.” It seems this holiday display compounds the factual and philosophical fallacies and omissions one year to the next.
The first of these needing to be addressed is the issue of California's homeless problem. Foremostly, Mary and Joseph were not homeless. The couple anticipating the Messianic child were ordered by Roman decree to travel from their home in Nazareth to the town of their ancestors for the purposes of registering with the census and paying their taxes.
If the congregation wants to do more than posture, preen, and virtue signal as to how bad they feel about the homeless epidemic, perhaps they would do well to reflect upon what is causing this lamentable crisis. They might be surprised to learn that the sort of progressivism likely embraced by many attending this sort of church has exacerbated the situation.
For example, since easing the restrictions on cannabis across America (supposedly for so called “medicinal purposes” even for patiences not suffering metastasized cancer, seizure disorders, or glaucoma but usually for nothing more than lazy ass syndrome).homeless rates have skyrocketed noticeably. For often those for whom the consumption of this intoxicant has become the central organizing facet of their existence find it a challenge to keep themselves satisfactorily employed and domiciled.
One can legitimately debate the role to be played by government and/or charity in addressing this issue. However, it will not be resolved --- something that elites might not even want to see transpire as a number paradoxically have a vested interest in seeing that the problem remains ongoing ---- unless individual responsibility and choices are recognized for the role they play in terms of ruined lives.
Though the Holy Family was not homeless in the terms of having no designated locality of habitation once their business with the regime had been concluded, if we want to take the presuppositions as expressed by the interpretative spin of this particular Nativity to their logical conclusion, do the statists possess the conviction to point out the implications of California's infamous taxation and regulatory bureaucracy upon the homeless situation?
For if the taxes and level of government intrusion beyond basic safety becomes too great, businesses will either close or leave California. In turn, those working for these enterprises will end up losing their jobs. That could result in the forfeiture of their homes if there are not a sufficient number of open positions in which the occupationally displaced can find reemployment.
Often in America, if one found themselves in a situation where they could not find employment to their liking, there was always the possibility of making one's own job through some sort of entrepreneurial undertaking. However, given the extent to which government has come to exert punitive influence over nearly every aspect of life to the point that in order to sell doodads at a flea market one has to beseech a permit and then often have to preemptively estimate before hand how much revenue might be generated from such transactions one could easily be discouraged from pursuing the very forms of basic commerce that could have prevented one's plunge into destitution.
The reflection put into the display depicting the Holy Family as detained refugees is no better than the narrative casting them as typical homeless. The press statement referring to the figurines depicted in this manner states, “Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.”
Jesus did emphasize kindness and mercy. However, He just as much emphasized that these qualities can only be extended when certain conditions are met. For the same corpus of divine revelation proclaiming the salvation found in Christ also just as explicitly extols “let all things be done decently and in order.”
It is because kindness and mercy play such a central role in Christian ethical thought that the nation is justified in exerting stringent oversight in regards to whom it will decide to grant entrance.
In terms of kindness, a government of a particular territory is obligated to extend this firstly and foremostly to those residing legally within the confines of its accepted borders. This is accomplished on the most rudimentary level by making sure those seeking to enter the territory under its protection intend that territory and those residing within no harm.
To those accustomed to living a comfortable existence in a nation relatively safe when compared to numerous others, detaining and separating families might not seem very kind or merciful. But given the circumstances, the United States should be commended for the merciful restraint that it does extend as a nation.
For example, if kindness and mercy were not priorities, the United States could very easily plant a minefield along the border without concern for what happens to any daring to cross it, with snipers standing ready to pick off any survivors happening to make it across such a daunting obstacle. But America is such an upstanding nation that the country has decided not to defend itself in such a manner out of a concern for the innate dignity of all human beings.
Relatedly, it must also be asked was it an act of kindness and mercy to create a situation where droves are apparently under the impression that all they had to do not only be allowed admission but also lavished with extensive (and the case could be made even extravagant) benefits was simply showing up with an outstretched hand? Such lawlessness is a boon to neither newcomer or longstanding citizen alike.
Given that, overall, Americans are a kindhearted and sympathetic sort, those skilled at manipulating the narrative in the direction of predetermined ends have made use of images depicting children ---- a number appearing to be quite young --- detained in locked cages with nary a parent in sight. Admittedly, such a situation is far from ideal. Yet in light of the circumstances, the policy could very well be the kindest and most merciful thing that can be done in this particular circumstance.
Firstly, there is often little proof that these children actually belong to the adults that are just about using them as human shields in the hopes of sneaking them past what are assumed to be dimwitted and softhearted border patrol officers. For all we know these urchins could very well be in transit by human traffickers to lives of sex slavery and prostitution.
Thus, do not the mercy and kindness called for on the part of Claremont United Methodist Church demand that these identification and relationship claims be proven and verified? After all, were not actual Americans put through similar wringers when forced to authenticate themselves before being granted documents in compliance with the Real ID Act required in order to continue their lives as fully recognized residents and citizens of the territorial United States?
It could be responded but why must children be separated from their parents during the detention process? But would it be an act of kindness or mercy to leave these vulnerable individuals even with their alleged parents in facilities just as likely to contain the perverted dregs as well as the noble destitute from the society from which both classes are fleeing?
Those naïve as to how the world actually works would likely reply, “At least allow these children to remain with their mothers even if they have to be separated from their fathers to protect children from predatory men.” Like it or not, at this time under United States law to enter into the country without proper authorization is still a crime.
As such, if the children of those accused of this act get to remain with their parents throughout detention, why do not actual American children get to remain with their parents then they are taken into custody for other criminal violations? Do these so-called “human rights” activists intend to articulate a similar degree of outrage over parents arrested for failing to comply with vaccination requirements or on behalf of the German family arrested there for homeschooling and denied asylum by the Obama regime because the family happened to adhere to Christianity rather than one of the forms of Third World heathenism lavished with accolades by the otherwise godless adherents of secularist multicultrualism?
The Reverend Ristine's comment closes in the article with the remark “a radical welcome of all people.” But just how radical is the welcome that would be extended by Rev. Ristine and the Claremont United Methodist Church?
For example, some churches along with others in their areas on certain nights in the winter allow the homeless to shelter in a designated building to get these individuals out of the cold. So what if Claremont United Methodist Church agreed to take in a certain number and a dozen more than planned forced their way into the building, proceeding to use the facilities in a way that was wantonly deleterious or even explicitly disrespectful of the graciousness extended by the hosts? Would the congregation be required to allow these souls to urinate in the baptistry or defecate in the pews since interdicting such behavior might be interpreted as contradicting the “radical welcome of Jesus”?
The Claremont United Methodist Church is first and foremost a church. As such, central to its identity is a scheduled weekly time of worship where the agreed upon leaders of the congregation provide a didactic oration usually accompanied by music of a style those assembled deem appropriate.
Thus, what if a group came into the sanctuary without prior authorization and proceeded to drone on incessantly about the imperative of reelecting President Trump? Better yet, what if the uninvited interrupted the otherwise orderly execution of the liturgy (particularly during Rev. Ristine's homily) with an exegesis elaborating their understanding how certain Scriptural texts are correctly interpreted as forbidding women from the ranks of the ordained clergy?
A church has the right to say, “Look, we will allow you to enter our arms welcoming you. But there are rules you will be required to abide by. If not, we are going to have to ask you to leave and you won't be allowed to come in.” As such, does not something similar apply to other social institutions as well?
It might not be the place of government to decide complex questions of theology. Yet inversely, as part of its mandate, the state has the obligation to be not quite as welcoming as the church as its primary function is to ensure that those existing within specified boundaries do not pose a viable threat and that a set of objective standards are adhered to in order to prevent widespread social breakdown.
There can be debate as to how stringent these ought to be in a society endeavoring to balance the needs of liberty and security. Yet to argue that the welcome must be so broad as to allow all arrivals irrespective of intent is to invite nothing but the destruction of what made this land a relative oasis amidst a troubled world in the first place.
Often President Trump addresses the hard truths that face the nation in a manner that some might construe as blunt or inartful. It must be admitted ---- something that he himself at one point refused to do when he insisted that he had never done anything in need of divine forgiveness ----- that he suffers (as do we all) from any number of flaws. However, his sincerity in wanting to see the borders of the United States protected for the benefit of all cannot be denied and should be applauded by all that profess to love America.
By Frederick Meekins
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