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28 April 2022

Jesus could teach Jacob Rees-Mogg a thing about immigrants

The Christian right is warping the teachings of Christ.

By Michael Coren

Late night TV show hosts in the US positively adore Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Republican representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district is a far-right conspiracy theorist who fits pretty much every caricature of Donald Trump conservatism. The problem is, as risible as she may be, she also enjoys a significant political following. Her latest lunacy came during an interview with an extreme Catholic media platform called Church Militant, in which she said that Christians who give support to migrants show that “Satan’s controlling the church”. Satan was unavailable for comment.

“The church is not doing its job,” she continued, “and it’s not adhering to the teachings of Christ, and it’s not adhering to what the word of God says we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to live.” Then, with a straight face, “Yes, we are supposed to love one another, but their definition of what love one another means, means destroying our laws.”

Her rhetoric is absurd, but also profoundly damaging from a Christian point of view. Because while most Christian leaders are outraged at her propaganda, there are myriad people who assume that this is what the Gospels do indeed represent. Nor do I blame them. Indeed, there are Tory MPs in Britain who claim to be Christian but support similarly xenophobic policies. They may not be as crass as the gun-toting congresswoman from Georgia but their views are just as distorting.

Most notably, the vociferously Catholic Jacob Rees-Mogg recently defended his government’s announcement that it planned to send migrants to Rwanda by comparing it to the resurrection of Christ. “The Rwandan story is almost an Easter story of redemption, of a country that suffered the most appalling and horrific genocide and is now recovering, and therefore the UK supporting it must be a good thing.”

Jesus himself disagrees. The child of migrant parents, his mother a teenager, he spent his life with the poor, marginalised and rejected. He owned no property, preached human dignity and equality, and said that nasty foreigners like Romans and Samaritans were to be treated with love and respect. As for the wealthy, they were told to sell everything and give it to the poor.

This isn’t implicit or subtle but downright roared by the Jewish revolutionary living under occupation — that is, Jesus. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”; or, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” And the central Christian teaching, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

This is the real Jesus and the real Christian narrative, but wrapping conservatism in the cloak of faith is popular and successful these days. In all honesty, it breaks my bleeding heart.

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