Church nativity depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as asylum seekers

Church nativity depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as asylum seekers

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A Methodist church in California is under fire after sharing images of a Nativity scene depicting the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph as refugees in cages.

The story: Pastors at the Claremont United Methodist Church shared the images on Facebook, using the display as a way to speak out against the Trump's administration's immigration policies that separate families who entered the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The church's pastor, Karen Clark Ristine, said: "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," she wrote. "Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people."

"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," she added.

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The post had more than 11,000 shares, comments and Facebook reactions. "Thank you for this. Thank you for this poignant statement," one user commented. "I hope it helps open peoples' eyes. We are all people, we are all deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

However, many took issue with the display and accused the church of taking it easy on former President Barack Obama.

"Why didn't you put them up during Obama's administration?" one person asked. Another added: "Didn't Obama separate family? How is everything Trump's fault?"

“This is WRONG and sacrilegious on so many levels!!!” Stacey Bretches commented on the post.

The Trump administration attributed the family separations to "crippling loopholes" in immigration law supported by Democrats and not the Justice Department's "zero-tolerance" policy in prosecuting anyone who crossed the border illegally. About 2,600 children were separated from their parents during the zero-tolerance policy.

"Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis. We can either release all illegal immigrant families [of] minors who show up at the border from Central America or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry," President Trump said during a June 2018 speech. "Those are the only two options, totally open borders for criminal prosecution for lawbreaking. And you want to be able to do that. If we don't want people pouring into our country. We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system and we want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit."

The government has since changed the policy, with Trump signing an executive order in June 2018 — and said separations only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child, ABC News reports.

In 2018, St. Susanna Parish in Massachusetts, a Roman Catholic congregation, featured baby Jesus in a black cage, separated from parents Mary and Joseph. “We try to take a picture of the world as it is and put it together with a Christmas message,” Pastor Fr. Stephen Josoma told CBS Boston.

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