A California church is putting what they consider to be a modern and politically poignant spin on the traditional Christmas nativity scene.
Claremont United Methodist Church, about a thirty minute drive east of Los Angeles, has constructed what its website refers to as “A Nativity to Affirm the Humanity of All People.” As displayed on The Daily Mail, this new take on the nativity scene showcases Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus all in separate cages. The scene is meant to depict family separations that asylum-seeking migrants endure at America’s southern border.
Describing the display as “Christianity in action,” the church sought to clarify the via the following online statement:
‘Many people have shared that they are praying for us – some who appreciate the nativity display, and some who do not. We are grateful for every prayer. Every one.
We want to directly address a concern raised by some. We find the detention and family separation policy immoral in any administration, and this congregation has opposed those policies since their inception. For those who have asked why we did not do such displays previously, please know that we have. In both 2009 and 2012, in particular, our nativity displays attempted to raise similar awareness on immigration policy concerns.
We believe and proclaim that all people are made in God’s image. The message of our nativity encourages us to see God’s image and the love of Christ in every person.
We are receiving too many communications to respond to each individually. We are grateful for the conversations the Nativity has inspired, and we hope they raise greater awareness in each of us for God’s care for the least of these. As Jesus said:
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35.’
Controversy initially arose when minister of Claremont United, Karen Clark Ristine, posted an image of the scene to Facebook over the weekend, saying it brought tears to her eyes as it depicted “the most well-known refugee family in the world.” The leader of the progressive church went to say that the teachings of Jesus teaches us to welcome all those who seek mercy, and that “the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders” were represented by the caged nativity depiction.
“What if this family sought refuge in our country today?” Pastor Clark Ristine asked.
Written by Red Blue Divide editorial staff.