A church in Massachusetts has sparked controversy by putting the baby Jesus in a cage for its nativity display in a protest against Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
The remarkable scene has been set up at St Susanna’s, Dedham, as a show of solidarity with the illegal immigrants who become separated from their families under harsh border control protocol after crossing into the US.
It features not only a caged Christ child representative of an immigrant infant being ripped away from its mother, but also a wall surrounding the wise men, meant to be evocative of the notorious migrant caravan.
Thousands of migrants from Central America are currently living in squalid conditions on the Mexican side of the border as they attempt to gain entry to the US.
‘We try to take a picture of the world as it is and put it together with a Christmas message,’ said Pastor Fr. Stephen Josoma.
Pictures taken of the thought-provoking display show the three wise men off to the side and separated by a fence marked ‘deportation.’
Hanging above the display is a sign that reads, ‘Peace on Earth?’
The idea for the display came from the Pax Christi group within the church, whose aim is ‘to educate the community on matters related to peace and justice issues including war, torture, the environmental degradation of our world’.
And the parishioners were quick to defend the display, echoing the sentiment of their reverend by saying ‘Jesus was political’.
‘Christ was political, he was hung on a cross for making political statements and bucking authority and that’s exactly why he died,’ Parishioner Phil Mandeville said.
While Pat Ferrone, a member of the Pax Christi committee which came up with the idea for the display, said: ‘We’re not trying to scandalize anyone. We’re trying to reflect back a reality that has to be looked at.’
It’s the second year the church has courted controversy with its nativity display. In 2017, the nativity scene featured signs showing the locations and death tolls of mass shootings across the country,
Government data obtained by the Associated Press on Thursday showed that at least 81 migrant children had been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump signed an order banning the practice in June.
Thousands of migrants have continued to come up from Central America in recent weeks as part of caravans despite Trump’s crackdown, however.
Trump used his national security powers to put in place regulations that denied asylum to anyone caught crossing illegally, but a judge has halted that change as a lawsuit progresses.