A few days before North Dakota's capital city turned its focus to a fierce debate over refugee resettlement, a conservative state lawmaker put on a fake white beard and tried to answer the age-old question, "What would Jesus do?"
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, posted a Facebook video last Saturday of himself acting out the Bible's Parable of the Good Samaritan from two contrasting political interpretations. In the original parable, a traveler is left for dead on the side of the road before a Samaritan man stops out of kindness to help him.
First, Becker presented the parable from his viewpoint that compassion and charity were personal undertakings of the good Samaritan. Next, he recreated the same story from what he perceives as the politically progressive philosophy that government should be responsible for upholding virtues. In the second version, a white-bearded Becker portraying God shakes his head after the Samaritan says he will demand that Jerusalem and Jericho taxpayers take on the man's transportation, lodging and medical bills.
Becker said the debate over whether Burleigh County should continue accepting refugees was "the culmination point" in him deciding to make the video but that his message applies to all issues on which progressives distort biblical themes for political convenience.
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"These teachings have to do with the individual and what's in one's heart," Becker told Forum News Service. "If you call out for government to do something that's in the teachings of Christ, that's not how it works."
After four hours of contentious public comment, the Burleigh County Commission voted 3-2 to continue allowing Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota to resettle refugees in the county. The outcome did not please Becker, who told the commissioners they should not allow new refugees until it fully understood the associated costs of the resettlements to local, state and federal taxpayers.
In the video, Becker adopts the style of filmmaker and comedian Tyler Perry by playing the roles of the traveler, the good Samaritan and God. To discern between the characters, the normally clean-shaven legislator wore three different fake beards.
Becker said it took him about an hour to create the "impromptu" production in iMovie. The video has now been viewed by at least 6,700 Facebook users by late Wednesday afternoon.
The outspoken lawmaker is the founder of self-dubbed Bastiat Caucus, which promotes libertarian causes in the North Dakota Legislature.