A viral Facebook post of nativity scene has believers of the Bible up in arms about their political beliefs regarding immigration and border control.
The Venn diagram of people who believe in strict border restrictions but also preach from the Bible is too close to a circle. In order to highlight the paradoxes in this point of view, a church in California decided to throw a twist on their nativity scene this year. After all, with the political climate as divisive and heated as it is, there's nothing like some good ol' grassroots activism from a church. The Claremont United Methodist Church in the state featured Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as all nativity scenes do, but placed them in separate cages, replicating what many families experienced at the United States-Mexico border due to President Donald Trump's stringent immigration regulations. While many were supportive of the idea, others believed it was blasphemous, The Hill reports.
The nativity scene went viral when Senior Minister Karen Clark Ristine took to Facebook to share a photo of it. Uploading the image, she wrote, "Stirred to tears by the Claremont UMC nativity. Inside the church, the Holy Family is reunited. The theological statement posted with the nativity: 'In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death. 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."
Ristine then went on to highlight what Jesus' and the Bible's true teachings are — to love everyone, wholly and without inhibition. "Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people," she affirmed. "He said: 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.' Matthew 25:35. In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders. Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a nativity that joins the angels in singing 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to all.' Luke 2:14."
A contentious and scandalous post, many called both Ristine and the church blasphemous, while others settled on calling the church minister rude names. Maxwell Powerson, for instance, wrote, "I suppose the only way to be a true Christian is to be naive and ignore security threats in the name of mushy emotional feelings? Are you comparing Jesus to an MS13 gang member? You're a heretic and should repent for what you're doing." Thankfully, everyone else saw the irony in Bible-thumping United States citizens who refused to loosen immigration policies. Robert Hayek stated, "If this is disturbing to you, it should be, and so should what’s going on at the border! That’s the whole point! Don’t be afraid to feel disturbed; that’s how you know you’re a caring, awake, living human being!" Angelo Turetta added, "Thank you, Pastor Karen, there is still hope if the good souls stand up against the mean ones." And Turetta is right. If we all stood up to those who believe in the subjugation of others and radically welcomed the marginalized, we would all be so much better off.