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Every Christmas season we will hear the inevitable revisionist version of the Christmas story. Jesse Jackson was the first to turn Joseph and Mary into a "homeless couple" when he claimed that Christmas "is not about Santa Claus and ‘Jingle Bells' and fruit cake and eggnog," of which all Christians would agree, but about "a homeless couple." He repeated his "homeless couple" theme at the 1992 Democratic Convention:
We hear a lot of talk about family values, even as we spurn the homeless on the street. Remember, Jesus was born to a homeless couple, outdoors in a stable, in the winter. He was the child of a single mother. When Mary said Joseph was not the father, she was abused. If she had aborted the baby, she would have been called immoral. If she had the baby, she would have been called unfit, without family values. But Mary had family values. It was Herod-the [Dan] Quayle of his day-who put no value on the family.
Jackson made a similar claim about the biblical record in 1999 when he stated that Christmas "is not about parties, for they huddled alone in the cold stable. It isn't about going into debt to buy extravagant presents; the greatest Gift was given to them although they had no money. It is about a homeless couple, finding their way in a mean time."
We can agree with Jackson that Christmas is not about Santa Clause and all the modern commercial trappings, but to turn the biblical account of the birth of Christ into a political hobby horse cannot supported by an actual study of the text of Scripture. Barbara Reynolds, a former columnist for USA Today, following Jackson's early lead, scolded the Christian Right for opposing government welfare programs: "They should recall," she writes, "that Jesus Christ was born homeless to a teen who was pregnant before she was married." Hillary Clinton, in comments critical of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's homeless policies, sought to remind all of us that "Christmas celebrates ‘the birth of a homeless child.'" Rev. William Sterrett told The Providence (RI) Journal the true Christmas story is about the poor and needy. "We have a very clear picture about the whole thing," Sterrett said. "But the truth is Mary and Joseph were homeless. She gave birth to Jesus in a barn. This image captures the essence of a Christmas story because you cannot get any poorer than that." Pat Nichols, writing for The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), concludes, "At the core, the story of Christmas is about a homeless couple about to have a baby. It is a story about poverty that most of us never experience, people with little more than they carry on their backs and a donkey to provide transportation." Have these people ever read the Bible?
I'm amazed how politicians and social critics are quick to quote and misquote the Bible when they believe it supports their quirky political views. When conservatives appeal to the Bible, we hear the inevitable "separation of church and state," "you can't impose your morality on other people," "religion and politics don't mix." The Bible is clear on moral issues that are culture killers: homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and abortion. The Bible is also clear on the moral issue of poverty. Nowhere in the Bible is civil government given authority to help the poor by raising taxes on the rich to pay for wealth distribution schemes. In fact, as history shows, the "war on poverty" became the war on the poor.
We would be more accurate to say, using liberal interpretive methods, the Christmas story is about how taxes hurt the poor and government decrees can turn productive families into the disenfranchised by keeping a counterproductive law.
 As reported in The Atlanta Journal/Constitution (December 28, 1991), A9.
 Jesse Jackson, "The Homeless Couple," Los Angeles Times (December 22, 1999). The version of Jackson's message "The Homeless Couple" can be found at www.rainbowpush.org/commentaries/1999/122299.html
 Barbara Reynolds, "These political Christians neither religious nor right," USA Today (Nov. 18, 1994), 13A.
 Cited in "Washington" under Politics in USA Today (December 1, 1999), 15A.
 Pat Nichols, "It's time to offer a helping hand," The Berkshire Eagle (December, 12, 2004).
 Thomas Sowell, "‘War on Poverty' has left nation in poorer condition," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (August 18, 2004), A13.