American evangelical pastor and Trump’s spiritual advisor, Paula White, defended Trump’s zero tolerance border laws by saying that “Jesus wasn’t a refugee,” Haaretz reports.
According to White, Jesus is not a refugee despite the over three-year stay in Egypt described in the Bible. She preaches “prosperity gospel,” which is a branch of Christianity that advocates all donations given to the church are karmic, and will ultimately garner more wealth for the donor.
White was present as Trump’s guest when he attended the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem this year. She also gave a sermon at his inauguration in 2016, becoming the first prosperity preacher to be involved with the ceremony. His advisor made headlines last year when she told an interviewer that Trump was “raised up by God.”
White paid a visit to the Youth For Tomorrow foster care center Monday, where some immigrant children separated from their parents are currently staying, and described it as “beyond phenomenal” in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
She advocated for stricter border security by revealing that the majority of the children housed at the center were in debt to human traffickers from $3,000 up to $10,000. White referenced the Bible during her interview when asked if anything came to mind.
“I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee,'” she said.
White added, “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.”
White is referencing the gospel of Matthew and books of the Biblical Apocrypha in her interview according to Vox. In these passages, the King of Judea, Herod, feared that the “king of the Jews” was born and proceeded to slaughter newborn boys in the kingdom. To escape from Herod’s onslaught, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus fled to Egypt and only returned after Herod had passed away.
White’s colleague on the evangelical advisory board, Robert Jeffress, has similarly invoked Romans 13 in support of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” foreign policies, sourcing these passages at his First Baptist Dallas church in Texas.
As of late June, 36 percent of white Evangelical Christians supported the family separation policy invoked at the Mexico border in recent weeks. Following White’s interview Monday, many spiritual leaders voiced their opinions on social media.