What if Jesus had been born today?
Here’s something to ponder during the 12 days of Christmas.
The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right some 2,000 years ago, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife-to-be, Mary, traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable, where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus.
Unfortunately, Jesus was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. And when he grew up, Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth to power. Indeed, his teachings undermined the political and religious establishment of his day.
He was eventually crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers that be.
Yet what if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, Jesus had been born and raised in the American police state?
Rather than traveling to Bethlehem for a census, Jesus’ parents would have been mailed a 28-page American Community Survey, a mandatory government questionnaire documenting their habits, household inhabitants, work schedule, etc.
Instead of being born in a manger, Jesus might have been born at home. Rather than wise men and shepherds bringing gifts, however, the baby’s parents might have been forced to ward off visits from state social workers intent on prosecuting them for the home birth. Had Jesus been born today, in a hospital, his blood and DNA would have been taken without his parents’ knowledge or consent and entered into a government biobank.
From the time he was old enough to attend school, Jesus would have been drilled in lessons of compliance and obedience to government authorities, while learning little about his own rights. Had he been daring enough to speak out against injustice while still in school, he might have found himself stungunned or beaten by a school resource officer, or at the very least suspended under a school zero tolerance policy that punishes minor infractions as harshly as more serious offenses.
From the moment Jesus made contact with an “extremist” such as John the Baptist, he would have been flagged for surveillance because of his association with a prominent activist, peaceful or otherwise.
Jesus’ anti-government views would certainly have resulted in him being labeled a domestic extremist.
Law enforcement agencies are being trained to recognize signs of anti-government extremism during interactions with potential extremists who share a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”
While traveling from community to community, Jesus might have been reported to government officials as “suspicious” under the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” programs. Rather than being permitted to live as an itinerant preacher, Jesus might have found himself threatened with arrest for daring to live off the grid or sleeping outside.
Viewed by the government as a dissident and a potential threat to its power, Jesus might have had government spies planted among his followers to monitor his activities, report on his movements, and entrap him into breaking the law.
The bottom line: Whether Jesus had been born in our modern age or his own, he still would have died at the hands of a police state.
Remember, what happened on that starry night in Bethlehem so long ago is only part of the story.
That baby in the manger grew up to be a man who did not turn away from evil but instead spoke out against it, and we must do no less.
John W. Whitehead, Charlottesville, Va. The writer is president of the Rutherford Institute.