I have a pretty laissez-faire relationship with religion, for the most part. It leaves me alone, I leave it alone. But every now and then something comes along that is just so absurdly, outrageously, insanely wrong that even a devout, born-again agnostic like me has to just call bullshit.
The latest one: this piece in Britain’s Independent.
The conceit of the piece: “What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?” The author compares Mary and the birth of Jesus with current conditions in Bethlehem.
Well, for one, Mary wasn’t a “refugee.” She and Joseph were travelling, in obedience with a stupid government dictate that everyone return to the town of their birth for a census. If anything, the modern-day equivalent of their situation would be affirmative action or busing — government moving people around and dictating where they must be in order to fulfill the government’s ideas of how things out to look.
For another, Mary and Joseph would not have been allowed into Bethlehem. It’s currently in Palestinian hands, and there are no Jews in the city. Even if they tried to qualify themselves as Christian (quite a feat, as they were not followers of Christ at the time — in fact, it could be argued that Christ was a follower of Mary at that point, as wherever she went, He had to go too), the Palestinians have been slowly purging the city of non-Muslims for years. If a Jewish couple were to show up in Bethlehem today, the wife pregnant, they’d be killed as “settlers” looking to steal Palestinian land.
For a third, Muslim society has a rather strict policy regarding unmarried mothers: they tend to kill them. Occasionally, they’ll let them give birth first, but fornication (sex outside of marriage) is a capital offense under Sharia law. Joseph would most likely have been put to death, too, as the presumptive father — their subsequent marriage is irrelevant.
The story gets one thing right: yes, it sucks to live in the Palestinian Territories. But they’ve never missed a chance to miss a chance to better their lot in life. Like John Wayne said in The Sands Of Iwo Jima, “Life is hard, but it’s harder when you’re stupid.”
Update: two of my favorite online Jews, Meryl Yourish and Laurence Simon, say much the same, but in their own inimitable, delightful styles. So that’s one agnostic and two Jews sticking up for Jesus; can we get at least ONE Christian to stick up for their faith?