A California church has sparked controversy with its nativity scene showing Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in cages

A photo the Claremont United Methodist Church shared on Facebook of its nativity scene.

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A photo the Claremont United Methodist Church shared on Facebook of its nativity scene.
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Karen Clark Ristine/Facebook
  • Claremont United Methodist Church in California is making headlines for its nativity scene, which shows Joseph, Mary, and Jesus as detained migrants.
  • Baby Jesus is wrapped in a silver Mylar blanket and kept separate from his parents.
  • The nativity stirred up controversy online, with some disagreeing with the political overtones.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A California Methodist Church is stirring conversation with its nativity scene this year, which depicts the Holy Family as detained migrants, ABC 7 reported.

Claremont United Methodist Church’s nativity shows Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus held in separate cages, a clear reference to the thousands of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the US border under President Donald Trump.

The baby Jesus in the scene is even wrapped in a silver Mylar blanket, which detainees at such facilities have often been pictured sleeping in.

baby jesus migrant nativity

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ABC 7

The church’s senior minister, Karen Clark Ristine, wrote a Facebook post about the nativity scene, calling Joseph, Mary, and Jesus “the most well-known refugee family in the world.”

The Bible tells the story about how the Holy Family fled Jerusalem for Egypt after Joseph had a premonition that King Herod would kill Jesus.

Ristine said the nativity scene asks the question, “What if this family sought refuge in our country today?”

“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.

“Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people,” Ristine wrote.

Many on Facebook were angered by the political overtones of the scene.

“This is the silliest misrepresentation of scripture and the story of God I have seen,” a Facebook user named GailynAnn wrote.

“This is political correctness gone completely awry,” a commenter named Keith wrote.

Others found the scene moving.

“If you don’t get this updated symbolism, then just sit back and enjoy the holiday fire on cable tv. Children are in cages while we sit back and smugly dither. This should be our focus this Christmas. Today’s fake, made for TV ‘Christians’ are heartless racists who feel that caging children is right and justified by their cherry-picking bible quotes. These same [Christians] support Trump, the Antichrist if ever there was one,” a commenter named Alex wrote.