CLAREMONT (CBSLA) — With Christmas right around the corner, many churches have put up their nativity scenes – but one in Claremont featuring the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph separated and placed in cages has people stopping, talking and debating.
The provocative nativity scene outside Claremont United Methodist Church raises the question – what would happen today if Mary and Joseph tried to bring baby Jesus across the border, seeking asylum in the U.S.?
"Never have I seen a nativity scene like this," Claremont resident Judi Rivera said. "It's making a very bold statement."
The Claremont church says it has for years taken the non-traditional route with its outdoor nativity scene in an effort to do something that reflects current discourse. Previously, their nativity scenes have featured a homeless Virgin Mary at a bus stop and young black man wearing a hoodie to evoke Trayvon Martin.
Today, it's the question of families seeking asylum in the U.S. and being separated at the border.
"It really makes me think. In a way, it puts a mirror in front of us, right now, so that bothers me," Lars Schmitz said.
The church's pastor, Rev. Karen Clark Ristine, says she doesn't see the scene as a political statement. However, the images she posted of the nativity scene on Facebook have drawn thousands of comments, many of them sharply critical.
Some have called the scene sacrilegious and blasphemy, while others called it powerful and brave.
One commenter wrote, "inappropriate and incredibly false analogy…using the nativity scene for political agendas is WRONG. Ridiculous" But another wrote "Thank you for thought provoking visuals."
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