Something often forgotten: Jesus too was an asylum seeker
Across the rich world, this decade has seen the rise of increasingly fierce anti-immigrant sentiment, much of it from self-identified Christians – as you recount the Christmas story this year, remember that Mary and Joseph fled religious persecution and sought asylum in a rich country, which took them in.
As Woody Guthrie sang: “If Jesus was to preach like he did in Galilee, they would lay poor Jesus in his grave.”
Joseph, Mary and Jesus were able to get asylum in Egypt, having, as they did, a well-founded fear of persecution, and when it was safe for them to return, they did. Today, by contrast, wealthy states (like the Egypt of the time) do all they can to prevent those fleeing political or religious persecution from getting across the border. The barriers are such that many people take desperate risks to escape the regimes they are threatened by in Syria or Eritrea, and end up drowning in the Mediterranean. Those that do make it are often disbelieved, stigmatized as “bogus” asylum-seekers, and even prosecuted for using false documents to enter.
A Christmas story [Chris Bertram/Crooked Timber]