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'Black Lives Matter' Nativity Scene Draws Attention At Claremont Unified Methodist Church

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Like other churches, Claremont Unified Methodist Church set up a holiday nativity scene, but they did it with a twist.

Their nativity scene depicted Black individuals and paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"It's an eye-opener, just makes you think about stuff and gets people talking about what's going on," said Jennifer Barge, who saw the presentation.

What caught her eye were the figures of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus surrounded by images of masked people holding signs saying "Black lives matter" and "I can't breathe."

At the very top of the nativity scene read the names and dates of dozens of black men and women shot and killed by police with the phrase "say their names" -- a protest against police brutality and racial injustice in America.

"It's sad just to see all that. A lot of it I didn't know was up there. A lot of the names from when we were younger one from 1955, he's 14 and it's just my kid is 19 and it just breaks my heart," Barge said.

The church is known for adding a twist to their nativity scenes each December, highlighting a hot-button issue in American history.

Last year, they showed images of children in cages, reflecting on the plight of immigrants and asylum seekers whose families were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement about this year's display, the church's senior minister said "Mary knows the sorrow of any parent who has ever lost a child, and she stands in solidarity with all who seek justice."

Barge says what better time to highlight this issue than Christmastime.

"They went through their own problems, and trials -- Jesus and Mary and Joseph -- with what they had to do and with how they were treated and they were traveling and had to find a place to stay and they're controversial themselves," Barge said.

Church leaders say they hope the display doesn't anger people, but prompts them to have heartfelt discussions about how to move towards positive change in our society.

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