What if Je­sus had been born to­day?

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

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.

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