One might ask: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) about refugees from the Middle East if he were President of the U.S. in place of President Trump?
Joshua Feuerstein shows the following image on his Facebook page, with the comment: "SHARE if you are EXCITED about having a man in the White House who will DEFUND Planned Parenthood and help END ABORTION!" 2
It shows President Trump at his desk in the Oval Office with Jesus behind him, guiding the President's hand while he signs a document -- perhaps the executive order that banned refugees from some predomimately Muslim countries.
I consulted Dictionary.com. It defines "excited" as being "stirred emotionally; agitated." That accurately defines my personal state of disapproval as I edited this essay and added this image.
However, this image caused me to wonder if the Bible contained any passages that might give us an indication of whether Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) would slam the door shut on refugees from many Middle Eastern countries, as President Trump's executive order has tried to do.
Consider the following two passages in the Bible:
1. The Gospel of Matthew 2:13-23 describes how Yeshua was once a refugee himself. Sometime before his second birthday, which probably ocurred during the fall of one of the years between 5 to 2 BCE, his family learned some frightening news. In an attempt to kill Jesus, King Herod was going to have all of the children under the age of two in their home town murdered. They decided to leave Galilee quickly.
Medieval wall painting showing their flight to Egypt.3
Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, took Jesus, and fled to Egypt where they became Jewish refugees. The country's official religion at the time was Pagan polytheism. This situation bears many similarities to monotheistic Muslim refugees fleeing towards the United States -- still a predominately Christian country -- to avoid death in their country of origin. Jesus and the rest of his family were probably very grateful for having being allowed into Egypt.
Since Jesus was less than three years of age at the time, he would have been too young to retain memories of the actual flight to Egypt. However, he would have been familiar with it later in his life because it would have been an important event in the history of his family of origin. This experience during his childhood might have influenced him to be particularly sensitive to the plight of oppressed people. As an adult, he repeatedly mentioned to his followers everyone's obligation to help people in need. Today, I suspect that he would take a very negative view towards President Trump's executive order which attempted to slam the door shut on other refugees from the Middle East.
2. The Bible's "Sheep and Goats" passage in the Gospel of Matthew 4 describes what is now called the "Final Judgment." This is a prophesied future event discussed by the anonymous author of "Matthew" in his Gospel. He wrote it circa 80 CE, about five decades after Jesus' execution by the occupying Roman Army.
In the Phillips version of the Bible, the author of "Matthew" wrote that Jesus will have collected all of the "men" who have ever lived on Earth from all of the world's cultures and religions, in one location. This appears to be a mistransliation of the original Greek, because the other 54 translations of the Bible that we checked to not refer just to males. They refer to "them" or "the people." and would presumably include both males, females, and intersexuals. He will place each person into one of two groups: the "sheep" destined to spend eternity in Heaven and the "goats" who will spend it in the torture chambers of Hell. "Matthew" quotes Jesus' actual words as he explains to the assembled crowd that there is only one criteria for salvation.
The single factor that will determine whether a person ends up in Heaven or Hell is how that individual treated fellow humans -- during their life on Earth. In the King James Version of the Bible, Jesus is quoted as describing how the "sheep" had been kind to others:
Matthew 25:35: "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. [I was] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (King James Version)
The emphasis here is for clarity; it was not in the original.
This direct word-for-word quotation of a future statement by Jesus -- at least in the passage's original Greek -- would seem to imply that Jesus condemns to Hell only those people who refuse to support people in need. That is, a person's salvation depends solely upon the performance of this type of good works while they were alive on Earth. The passage stresses the importance of people following the Golden Rule; it states that we are to treat others as we would personally wish to be treated by others.
Jesus describes the Golden Rule more explicitly elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), in two Gospels: Matthew and Luke. Presumably, this criterion applies to every human -- even to the salvation of the President of the United States. It would seem that his issuing of an executive order to bar immigrants escaping civil war in Syria and similar problems elsewhere in the Middle East would be a very black mark on President Trump's record, particularly because it would "bigly" dislocate the lives of so many people. The President would then have counteract the effects of his executive order by performing a massive number of good deeds if he is to attain Heaven after he dies.
I conclude that Jesus would condemn President Trump's executive order in the most forceful way.
That said, there is a considerable ambiguity in the various passages dealing with personal salvation in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).
Unfortunately, the salvation criterion in Matthew is short of details. Every person on Earth has probably helped some people and ignored the needs of others at multiple times during their lifetime. The "Sheep and Goats" passage in the Bible does not give any idea how a person can evaluate all of their past positive and negative actions and decide whether their eternal destination is more likely to be Heaven or Hell.
Meanwhile, several passages in the Bible that were written by Paul and other followers of Jesus, approach the criterion of personal salvation very differently. They write that multiple criteria are evaluated to decide whether a person is "saved." To be saved, the person must
First repent of their sins and then
Trust Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
That is, one's behavior towards other persons while on Earth doesn't matter. A person can be a murder, rapist, arsonist, etc. as long as they repent and trust Jesus before dying. More details. I have always been uncomfortable with this concept of tying salvation to having accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. It seems profoundly unjust towards the many billions of persons who have died never having heard of Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity, and thus have zero chance of having trusting Jesus.