Donald Trump's spiritual adviser Paula White says "Jesus was a refugee but not an illegal one"
Theological experts slammed White's interpretation of the Biblical story and said that there is no evidence which suggests that Jesus was "legally admitted" into Egypt.
President Donald Trump's spiritual adviser recently found an opportune moment to personally interpret the Biblical story of Jesus' origins at a time when the world is expressing outrage at America's immigrant policy of separating children from their parents.
Paula White, while speaking on the Christian Broadcasting Network about visiting a foster care facility in Bristow, Virginia, earlier this month, said that although Jesus lived in Egypt as an "immigrant" for some time, he did not break the law.
She made the statement when she was asked to reflect on the Bible verses which came to her mind during her visit to the facility that was reportedly taking care of several migrant children. The televangelist added that many Christians misconstrue the story about Jesus' escape to Egypt.
According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ's family fled to Egypt soon after he was born in Bethlehem to escape a massacre ordered by a tyrannical king in their country. The family then lived in Egypt until the death of that king.
White, during a CBN interview published in Monday, said: "I think so many people have taken Biblical Scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.' Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”
Christians from Pope Francis to American evangelicals have pointed out that Jesus himself was once a refugee in an attempt to inspire sympathy among Americans for the ones fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in other countries.
National coordinator for the advocacy group Evangelical Immigration Table, Matthew Soerens, on Wednesday said that most Christian theologians would possibly find flaws in White's interpretation of the Biblical story. Soerens said that the concept of "illegally" entering Egypt did not apply during Jesus' time when there were no passports or visas regulating migration into a country.
Soerens, in an email to HuffPost, wrote: "We have no reason from the text to think that his parents requested refugee status in advance of their flight. Much like many Salvadoran or Honduran families today who are fleeing gang violence, their response to a credible threat to their family’s safety was to try to reach a foreign country where they would be safe, protected from those seeking to do them harm.”
While the president of the refugee resettlement agency Church World Service, Rev. John McCullough, said that he has seen no evidence in the Bible which suggests that Jesus' family was "legally admitted" into Egypt.
"Fortunately, the Egyptian authorities did not exercise any kind of zero tolerance policy," McCullough said, taking a dig at President Trump's stringent "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
Separation of immigrant families at the United States-Mexico border was severely criticized by activists, lawmakers and human rights organization across the world. The separation was part of President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy associated with the crackdown on immigration in the country. However, the outrage forced the president to sign an executive order on June 20 stating that children would not be separated from their parents at the border.
The family separation policy was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May. Under the policy, Trump administration separated children from their parents, who were illegally entering the country, and then handing them over to the Department of Health and Human Services for reallocation.