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Jesus, Virgin Mary caged and separated in controversial Nativity scene

US CHRISTMAS | 09 de diciembre de 2019

Los Angeles, Dec 9 (efe-epa).- A Methodist church in Southern California has adapted its traditional Nativity scene this year by putting the Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Joseph in separate cages to highlight the separation of families pushed by the Donald Trump administration to deter undocumented migrants from illegally entering the United States.

The Nativity scene, at the United Methodist Church in Claremont, a town 51 km (32 mi.) east of Los Angeles, was set up on church grounds on the weekend to denounce the situation being faced by refugees who come to the US.

The Christmas display has sparked controversy, with the caged figurines of Mary and Joseph placed on either side of the cage containing Jesus in the manger.

"We see this as, in some ways, the Holy Family standing in for the nameless families," said Rev. Karen Clark Ristine, who has been head pastor at the church since July.

"We've heard of their plight; we've seen how these asylum seekers have been greeted and treated. We wanted the Holy Family to stand in for those nameless people because they also were refugees," she added.

She went on to say that if people see the Holy Family as separated, the hope is that that will awaken compassion for the plight of refugees within them.

The trio of figures are placed so as to emulate the widely disseminated images of migrant families detained by the Border Patrol last year, although Trump ordered an end to the policy of separating migrant families in the summer of 2018.

Ristine also posted images of the Nativity scene on the church's Facebook page, saying that the scene recreates the moment when, according to most Biblical interpretations, the Holy Family was forced to flee from Nazareth to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod, who was bent on killing all children he thought might pose a threat to his rule.

They feared persecution and death, Ristine emphasized, much like many of the migrants who currently head for the US from Central America, for instance.

For those who prefer a more traditional Nativity scene, there is another one inside the church, Ristine said.

This is not the first time that the church - with its congregation of about 300 people - has used its yearly Nativity scene to call attention to a social issue.

In 2014, for instance, the church placed the Baby Jesus in Mary's arms and the presents brought by the Three Kings in a little shopping cart at a bus stop in a call to viewers to reflect on poverty in the US.

The two figures of mother and child were outfitted in wet clothing with a blanket to cover themselves. Beside them, the little cart held bags of belongings and other items, a standard feature of many homeless people in the US.

The church congregation has used the Nativity scenes for this kind of message for more than a decade.

Another church in the Los Feliz sector of Los Angeles is also putting the Holy Family in cages in another controversial representation during the Christmas holiday season, characteristically known as a time of charity for all and goodwill toward men.

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