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Claremont Church Rejects Plan For Nativity Scene Featuring Steel Manger Made Of Guns

CLAREMONT ( — A Southland church unable to reach agreement on an artist's proposal for a Nativity scene criticizing gun violence has instead posted a banner calling for peace.

The Claremont United Methodist Church is breaking away from the last eight years of socially conscious manger scenes designed by church member and artist John Zachary, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported Wednesday.

This year, Zachary wanted to erect a steel manger welded with guns to focus the public's attention on the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Twitter user Tressy Capps posted a photo of the manger with a tweet that read: "OH LORD PLEASE OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND".

Rev. Mark Wylie says a church committee was concerned the display could draw protests and could not reach a consensus with Zachary on the proposal.

"We weren't sure that doing a Nativity scene on gun violence wouldn't just add to the whirlwind and the sort of polarizing of opinions," he said.

Instead, the church posted a banner with wishes of peace and the words "Thou shalt not kill."

"We decided to put up a banner. What God really wants is for us to be in peace with each other," Wylie said.

Zachary didn't want to go on-camera, but told CBS2 he was disappointed. He said he wanted to raise awareness and promote discussion about gun violence.

"It wasn't the right mood for where people were and we would just add kerosene to an already burning fire," said Wylie, who plans to bring back the Nativity next Christmas.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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