Church Sparks Heated Reactions By Putting Jesus, Mary, Joseph In Separate Cages, Separated By The Border Patrol

The holidays are quickly approaching us with the smell of freshly-baked cookies, the malls are full of Christmas tunes, and we all know that it’s the season to spend time in the warm company of your family. However, not all people will have the luxury of spending time with their loved ones. Especially if they’re running for their lives.
Claremont United Methodist Church in California is making the headlines for its very unusual Nativity scene that depicts Jesus, Mary, and Joseph locked up in cages, as a family of asylum seekers separated at the border.
The reactions to the Nativity scene have been very different and society appears to be divided on the issue.

Claremont United Methodist Church divided society after it unveiled its Nativity scene with everyone in cages

Image credits: Karen Clark Ristine
Some believe that it’s the perfect way to grab everyone’s attention about an important societal issue. Others think that it’s wrong to politicize Jesus and his family, and it’s a ‘cheap’ way to get attention and ‘attack’ the current United States government. A third group thinks that the metaphor doesn’t quite work because Jesus and his family were in a different situation than asylum seekers today.

The church’s take on the Nativity scene is a criticism of the way asylum seekers and refugees are dealt with in the US

Image credits: Breznican
Image credits: Breznican
While the Claremont United Methodist Church’s lead pastor, Reverend Karen Clark Ristine, doesn’t see this is as a political statement—she sees it as a theological one. With such a cacophony of different views and opinions being expressed, it’s no wonder the church is getting so much attention.
“We see this as, in some ways, the Holy Family standing in for the nameless families,” Reverend Karen Clark Ristine told the media. “We’ve heard of their plight; we’ve seen how these asylum seekers have been greeted and treated. We wanted the Holy Family to stand in for those nameless people because they also were refugees.”
“We don’t see it as political; we see it as theological. I’m getting responses from people I don’t know,” said the Reverend, who has been leading the church since July 2019. “I am having people tell me that it moved them to tears. So if the Holy Family and the imagery of the Holy Family and the imagery of a Nativity is something you hold dear, and you see them separated, then that’s going to spark compassion in many people.”
Image credits: Breznican
Image credits: Breznican
Image credits: Breznican
Image credits: Karen Clark Ristine
The Nativity scene is meant to show Jesus after he was born. However, the Claremont United Methodist Church is trying to make a metaphor about asylum seekers by alluding to Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt, to escape King Herod’s wrath.
The church does have a second, more traditional, Nativity scene inside the building itself. Claremont United Methodist Church often uses its Nativity scene to draw attention to important issues, such as Southern California’s homelessness crisis.

The lead pastor of the church shared her thoughts in this post:

Image credits: Karen Clark Ristine

Here’s how some people reacted to what the church did, some were very critical

While others loved the idea

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Church Sparks Heated Reactions By Putting Jesus, Mary, Joseph In Separate Cages, Separated By The Border Patrol Church Sparks Heated Reactions By Putting Jesus, Mary, Joseph In Separate Cages, Separated By The Border Patrol Reviewed by Your Destination on December 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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