This Church Depicted Jesus, Mary And Joseph In Cages To Make A Statement About Immigrant Detainees
"Jesus taught us kindness and mercy and the radical welcome of all people," they wrote.
The nativity scene outside of Claremont United Methodist Church, a suburban congregation east of Los Angeles, is causing an uproar as it depicts Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as border detainees.
The depiction of the biblical story of Jesus’s family shows them fleeing to Egypt in the context of controversial U.S. immigration policies, with the three central figures isolated in their own chain-link cage with a barbed-wire top.
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“Our intent is to focus on the asylum seekers and the ways they are being greeted and treated and to suggest there might be a more compassionate way to show God’s love,” said Rev. Karen Clark Ristine, the church’s senior pastor to The Washington Post. “I think as Christians we have a responsibility to proclaim a narrative that might be counter to what the world thinks.”
Since the scene went live, comments on the church's Facebook page have shown both support and anger from the idea of the display.
“I am appalled to say the least about your nativity scene in your church,” wrote Edwin Musto, a methodist, on the church’s Facebook page according to The Washington Post. “It is despicable that you can bring politics into our church!”
Despite the controversy surrounding the display, Ristine has consistently rejected the notion of the nativity as a political statement and Hope's that people can continue to view the message that Jesus tried to teach.
“A nativity is the theological equivalent to public art, and the role of public art has always been to offer awareness,” Ristine said. “Jesus taught us kindness and mercy and the radical welcome of all people.”
Last year, churches in Indiana, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma all staged nativity scenes with figures placed in cages. The many scenes around the country lead to the hashtag #holyfamilyseparated.