Every holiday season, there are news stories of controversial nativity scenes, and this year is no different. The nativity scene that is getting national attention at the moment is one that was created by Claremont United Methodist Church in California. The display shows Mary, Jesus, and Joseph in cages. The shocking scene is meant to draw attention to the conditions migrants face when crossing the border, according to CNN.
The church shared the photo of the nativity scene on their website and it quickly went viral. Three large metal cages each contain a member of the Holy Family, with baby Jesus lying in a manger in the middle cage. The Mary and Joseph figures are turned so they are facing the Jesus figure, reaching out to it. Straw covers the bottom of each cage, reminding viewers of the stable in which the Bible says Mary gave birth to Jesus. The top of each cage is lined with barbed wire.
Lead Pastor Karen Clark Ristine explained the inspiration for the striking display.
“We thought about the most famous refugee family in the world, the family of Jesus. What if this family sought refuge in our country today? In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders. Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.”
According to the Bible, Mary and Joseph took Jesus from Israel not long after his birth and fled to Egypt because of King Herod’s plan to kill the Messiah. Their plight is now being compared to the many families that make desperate journeys to America to escape conditions, such as poverty, persecution or violence.
Pastor Ristine hopes that the nativity scene will remind passerby of the thousands of migrant children separated from their parents. She also hopes it will spark conversation.
The viral photo of the nativity scene has received mixed reviews on social media. Some think that this is a powerful way to spark change while others think it is disrespectful to mix issues of faith and politics in this way.
The topic of mixing faith and politics in regards to a nativity scene has come up in years past. In 2015, Melania Trump included a nativity scene in her holiday display at the White House, as The Inquisitr previously reported. This was deemed a controversial move because former President Barack Obama had left out the manger scene.