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'Most Famous Refugee Family': Church Nativity Scene Shows Jesus, Mary & Joseph as Caged Immigrants

With over 5,500 immigrant children separated from their families in US, Claremont United Methodist Church's unconventional nativity scene has gone viral.


Updated:December 9, 2019, 2:39 PM IST
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'Most Famous Refugee Family': Church Nativity Scene Shows Jesus, Mary & Joseph as Caged Immigrants
Image credit: Facebook

With Christmas around the corner, a church in the United States has used the opportunity to talk about the immigrant border crisis in the country by depicting a nativity scene in which Jesus, Mary and Joseph were shown in cages after being separated at the Mexico border.

The provocative nativity scene was created by the Claremont United Methodist Church in east of Los Angeles in Southern California. An image of Jesus, Mary and Joseph wearing chain links and incarcerated in separate cells is was shared on Facebook by a minister of the church, Karen Clark Ristine.

"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," Ristine wrote.

"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," the senior minister of the church continued.

"Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people...what if this (Jesus's) family sought refuge in our country today?" she asked.

Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents and put in crowded and controversial detention centres across the US Mexico border ever since the Donald Trump administration started criminally prosecuting every adult that entered the United States illegally.

The incarcerated family of Jesus is not the only nativity scene in the church. Inside the church is yet another nativity scene in which the family can be seen reunited.

Ristine's post has over 19,000 shares on Facebook. "This is a brilliant and poignant post, thank you to the church for generating awareness through this post. Heartbreaking," a Facebook user wrote in response to the post.

"We're supposedly a 'Christian' nation but we're not acting like that when we're separating people, caging them, allowing them to die from the flu with just space blankets and a cold hard floor. What have we become? That's not what Jesus taught us and that makes me sad and disgusted," another wrote.

According to Border Patrol statistics, 534,758 migrants were apprehended by federal agents at the south-western border of the US in the first six months of 2019. This is the highest six-month tally in a year since 2008, USA today reported. Meanwhile, a total of at least 5,500 children have so far been separated from their families.

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