California church depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as refugee family separated at border in controversial nativity scene
According to the pastor, the biblical story of Mary and Joseph fleeing from Israel to Egypt resonates with the plight of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in America
CLAREMONT, CLAIFORNIA: A California church has chosen to draw attention to the conditions faced by migrants seeking asylum in the US this Christmas by displaying a nativity scene depicting Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as refugees who have been separated and put in cages.
In a photo shared by the Claremont United Methodist Church, Mary and Joseph are shown being held in separate cages topped with barbed wire, with baby Jesus wrapped in a silver foil blanket inside a third cage, Fox 8 reports.
In a conversation with CNN affiliate KABC, lead pastor Karen Clark Ristine elaborated on the idea behind the nativity scene: “We thought about the most famous refugee family in the world, the family of Jesus."
According to the pastor, the biblical story of Mary and Joseph fleeing from Israel to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree that all newborn boys be killed resonates with the plight of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in America.
In a Facebook post, she explained that the display originated with the question: "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,” Ristine said in the post.
“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.”
“If this sparks conversation, that would be one good goal,” Ristine told KABC.
Having said that, the controversial arrangement has certainly sparked a debate.
Commenters on social media appeared to be sharply divided in their respective opinions.
“It is disrespectful in my view to put the King of Kings, Lord of Lords in a cage at any time. Your political views should not be mixed with the birth of our savior. Shame on you!” one wrote.
Meanwhile, others thought the scene was a rather powerful statement.
“Does the world’s most famous and worshipped refugees separated in cages make you uncomfortable USA? …it does?… Good!” another added.