"Yes, [Jesus] did live in Egypt for 3 and a half years, but it was not illegal."


What: ​Televangelist and presidential faith adviser Paula White took a trip last week to an immigrant detention camp in Bristow, Virginia. She returned starry eyed and ready to refute reports of the ​abuse of migrant children.


Talking on 
CBN News on Monday, she described the experience of ​visiting the detention center as "beyond phenomenal," and complimented the conditions in which immigrants were being kept as "amazing."

"Not just three square meals," she said, overflowing with excitement. "Psychiatric care, clinician, medical care, chapel, events, schooling, language, love."

​CBN went so far as to describe White's journey as "life changing."


White also took the time to respond to a very specific criticism leveled against evangelicals who support President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policy: That Jesus himself was a nomadic migrant who lived several years in Egypt.

The comparison, according to White, is specious, because Jesus was not a rule-breaker, nor was he an illegal immigrant.


"I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.’ And yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years, but it was not illegal," she said.


"If he had broke the law," she added in an attempt at a syllogism, "then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our messiah." (You may judge yourself how strong the logic holds.)

Visiting a detention camp certainly did not diminish White's support for the administration’s arrest of immigrant families at the border. “If we are going to be compassionate, we have to have stricter border security and laws,” she said.


White has been a close friend of President Donald Trump since 2002.

​When Trump was elected, she was promptly appointed to his ​evangelical advisory board. She also gave the invocation at Trump's inauguration in January of 2017. 


White is the pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, and a prominent televangelist. Last January, she ​faced criticism for asking her viewers to donate their "first fruits" of the year, or else "there are consequences."


Why: The Bible has been used a number of times to support the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. 


Last month, ​Jeff Sessions cited Romans 13 in an attempt to rationalize the Trump adminstration's "zero tolerance" policy that ​led to the separation of migrant families. 


“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order," he said in June.


Also in June, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN's Jim Acosta in a ​press briefing, "I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law, that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible," in reference to the family-separation policy, which had since been ​reversed in an executive order.


PLURALIST POSCRIPT

Not to belittle White's authority as an educator and scriptural expert, but the Pluralist editorial team would like to note that the Christian messiah was in fact a rule breaker who defied against both the secular rule of the Roman Empire and the religious orthodoxy of the Jewish clergy in Jerusalem. 

​ 
We were unable to confirm, however, whether 3.5 years constituted illegal stay under the immigration laws of Herod's Egypt.