There is a church in Claremont, CA, the Claremont United Methodist Church, which is known for stirring the pot just a bit.
Every year they put up a nativity scene, like many other churches across the country do, but instead of focusing on Christ, they focus on the current social issues.
Last year, the Church's Nativity scene depicted baby Jesus, Joseph, and Mary in chain-link cages to highlight the plight of migrants and refugees separated from their families at the US-Mexico border.
This year, the Church, which has a congregation of 430 members has put up an outdoor Nativity scene that addresses racism, "a centuries-old issue that we need to keep wrestling with", according to the church's senior minister Rev. Karen Clark Ristine.
The Church's 2020 Nativity display pays tribute to the "Black Lives Matter" protests. It places the Holy Family in front of a large mural that depicts a group of protesters holding signs that read "I Can't Breathe!", "Black Lives Matter", "Jesus Wept", " Racism is a Pandemic Too", "Say Their Names" and Bible verses.
Above the protesters' heads, a black banner lists the names of 30+ African-Americans killed throughout the years, including 14-year old Emmett Till killed in 1955), Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd ( all three killed in 2020).
The church’s minister says, despite BLM having nothing to do with Christmas, she decided to politicize the nativity to call attention to “racism.”
“We couldn’t think of any other issue that we wanted to keep under the light of the Bethlehem star than the need to address racism,” Rev. Karen Clark Ristine told the Los Angeles Times.
”Mary knows the sorrow of any parent who has ever lost a child, and she stands in solidarity with all who seek justice,” Ristine claimed, adding, “We don’t want the need for continuing conversation of racism and white supremacy to get lost in news cycles.”
In the painting, the protesters do wear masks even though the Nativity display is not themed around the ongoing COVID pandemic, as " racism is worse, the worst epidemic around the world", according to Genaro Cordova, the Church's facilities engineer. The public's response to this year's Nativity display has been 50/50, according to the Rev. Ristine.
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