Now that we’re fully into the official Christmas season it’s time for the usual rounds of fights over the politicization of the holiday. (Apparently, because it’s 2019 and everything has to be awful.) One of our first entries in this category comes to us from a Methodist church in Claremont, California. The pastor there has set up a Nativity scene to greet the various passers-by, but this one comes with a twist. Rather than showing Mary and Joseph gazing adoringly at the Baby Jesus in His manger, the three characters have been split up and put in cages. Because you know… we need to abolish ICE or something. (CBS Los Angeles)
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.” …
“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, has stated that she “doesn’t see this as a political statement.” Seriously? You’ve split up Jesus’ family and put them in cages, asking what would happen to them if they tried to cross our southern border illegally. How on Earth is that not a political statement? This seems like a particularly inappropriate time of the year for a woman of the cloth to compound this sort of blasphemy by lying about it.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Pastor Ristine has mangled the Nativity to invoke political debates. In 2014 she depicted Mary as a homeless person at a bus stop. The year before that she replaced Joseph with a representation of Trayvon Martin.
The pastor has also displayed Mary without Jesus to portray her as a single mother whose son is in prison. Another annual display created a desert scene reminiscent of Iraq with the Savior and His parents shown as war refugees.
Even in the very liberal state of California, people surely must sometimes reach a point where they’ve had enough of politics for a while. That should be especially true at Christmas for the faithful. Isn’t your church a place where you should be able to go and actually celebrate the birth of the Lord with your family and friends from the community?
In any event, that’s the choice the pastor and her staff have made. They have the same freedom of speech as anyone else, along with their freedom of religion. But a church congregation also acts as a free market in some ways and people are free to vote with their feet. A quick check of Google maps shows that there are more than a dozen other churches within a short driving distance, including other Methodist halls. Just saying…