Immigrant children now housed in a tent encampment under the new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration are shown walking in single file at the...

This Week in God, 7.14.18

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at a new argument from an evangelical White House ally in defense of Donald Trump’s family-separation policy. TPM reported the other day:

Pastor Paula White, chair of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, defended Trump’s child separation policy earlier this week by claiming that Jesus did not live in Egypt illegally, and that “he would not have been our Messiah” if he’d broken the law.

After gushing over how “amazing” the child detention center she visited was, White addressed immigration advocates’ point that Jesus himself was a refugee.

In a segment aired by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, the televangelist said that Jesus lived in Egypt, “but it was not illegal.”

White added, “If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Plenty of the president’s evangelical allies have publicly defended Trump’s family-separation tactics, but this appeared to be the first time a high-profile figure – in this case, the chair of Trump’s evangelical advisory board and the first woman to deliver a prayer at a presidential inauguration – has incorporated Jesus’ immigration status into the debate.

It wasn’t long, however, before many noted Jesus’ status as an accused law-breaker. As a Vox piece explained, “White did not mention that Jesus was ultimately executed by Judean colonial authorities for perceived political insurrection.”

On Twitter, the Rev. William Barber II added, “Jesus was a refugee & did break the law. He was crucified as a felon under Roman law.”

Also from the God Machine this week:

* As if Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte weren’t already controversial, he delivered remarks recently in which he took a rather aggressive atheistic posture. “Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid,” Duterte said. “How can you rationalize a God?” On Wednesday, he apologized.

* If confirmed to the Supreme Court, how would Judge Brett Kavanaugh look at religious liberty cases? My friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State took a closer look at his record.

* El Al adopted a new policy to address an unexpected faith-based controversy: “In response to an incident last week when several ultra-Orthodox men delayed an El Al flight after refusing to sit next to women, Israel’s national airline has announced it will no longer accommodate such requests.”