Navigating the complex legal rulings that have stalled the Trump administration’s travel ban can be difficult. A litany of judges from numerous states have made separate rulings on the executive order, culminating in a hearing held before a 13 judge panel on Monday to decide the fate of the law. Determining exactly who is subject to the ban is equally trying, as a second version of the executive order was necessary to clear up the confusion that occurred at airports and customs agencies around the world over whom precisely the order targets. Even U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and Department of Homeland Security officials admitted confusion and uneven implementation of the order stemming from a lack of clear guidance. In some cases, lawful permanent residents were barred from entering the United States, and in others visa-holders entered the country without experiencing any delays.
However, one part of the order–or orders–has been exceedingly clear: the nations affected by the travel ban have been explicitly stated. Which is why it is so difficult to see how anyone could fail to understand the most elementary segment of the travel ban and suggest that Jesus would have trouble navigating U.S. customs.
Trump travel ban version 1.0 included Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq. Version 2.0 saw Iraq removed from the list, resulting in proposed temporary travel restrictions affecting six Muslim majority countries.
Jesus was famously born in a stables in the Jewish town of Bethlehem. Using modern equivalencies, then, Jesus is a naturalized citizen of Israel. However, after King Herrod ordered the execution of all boys under the age of two, Jesus was taken to Egypt as a refugee, living in the North African country until it was safe to return to the Israeli city of Nazareth, where he incidentally lived out most of the years of his life.
I tried to return…but Trump stopped me at customs.
As an Israeli, Jesus most certainly would not be affected by President Trump’s travel ban proposal, though perhaps the author of the meme is implying that customs agents would be wary of a Middle Easterner as well-traveled as Jesus. The Messiah’s passport would, no doubt, include a number of colorful stamps indicating travel to terrorist havens across the region…or would it?
Jesus put quite a few miles on those sandals, ministering, preaching and healing in such exotic locales as Samaria, Jordan, Perea and Caperneum. As foreign as these names sound, the towns holding their names are all located within Israel proper and modern day Jordan. While Caperneum is near the Golan Heights, Israel captured this land from Syria in 1967 and has held the key terrain since as a means of defending itself from attack.
Christ also entered Lebanon, where the Christian Crier reports that, “His first miracle was performed in the city of Cana in South Lebanon, where he turned water into wine.” But a quick review of the executive order confirms that Lebanese travelers are not, in fact, banned from entering the United States.
Still, an overzealous border official–or the illustrator of this meme–may worry about Jesus’ potential ties to Muslim terrorists in Syria. After all, Mathew 4:25 reads, “Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them.”
However, the evangelist Mathew is referring to the Roman province of Syria, rather than the modern Arab Republic of Syria, which was founded after World War I. The Roman Syria Provincia included Judea and Galilee, the areas with which Jesus was most familiar, as well as a vast expanse of territory including Lebanon, Jordan, and much of modern Syria. Yet, much like Jesus Christ’s journey into a vast and intractable “Wilderness,” many of his journeys throughout modern Arab Syria are debatable, with some religious scholars contending that his travels were isolated within the modern borders of Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.
Of course, even if Jesus had visited Syria as it is situated today, the Trump travel ban does not bar anyone from entry into the U.S. for simply traveling through any of the six listed countries. The preceding historical account was executed simply to illustrate the imaginative leaps of rationality required for anyone to suggest that Jesus would be prohibited from entering the U.S. Even if the Messiah was regarded as a citizen of Syria, or any other country on the list, the inverse of the meme’s proposal is proven true from Trump’s original executive order allowing persecuted religious minorities to be given precedence when considering potential applicants for entry. Jesus certainly qualified as such during his own time, and any man residing in a Muslim majority country today and claiming to be Christ reincarnated is liable to be persecuted.
Travel ban version 2.0, when describing the redacted section regarding persecuted religious minorities, reads, “Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion. While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities — whoever they are and wherever they reside…”
Therefore, any Jesus meme reflecting the travel ban should say, “I tried to return, but judicial overreach resulted in the first travel ban being modified so that persecuted religious minorities like myself were no longer prioritized as refugees.” Ultimately, successive district courts have ruled that Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional because of a single statement he made on the campaign trail 16 months ago calling for a “total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States.” The press frequently refer to the temporary travel restrictions as a “Muslim ban,” sharing with America’s judiciary the unique and uncanny ability to look into the president’s mind and determine his unspoken will. It is definitely ironic that a travel ban that the Left qualifies so adamantly as targeting Muslims would also include the Jewish/Christian Jesus Christ in this meme, effectively disproving the very reason that judges have subsequently struck down the executive order as unconstitutional.