A Nativity scene at a Los Angeles church shows Mary standing with Black Lives Matter protesters holding signs that read “Jesus Wept” and “I Can’t Breathe,” video shows.
“We don’t just see Christmas as strictly a sentimental thing,” said Pam Bunce of Claremont United Methodist Church, The Daily Bulletin reported. “We see it as what Jesus came to do and that’s to stand with the people who are marginalized.”
The church has a history of provocative Nativity scenes. In 2019, it locked Jesus, Mary and Joseph in cages to call attention to immigration reform, KABC reported.
An earlier Nativity scene at the church depicted a homeless Mary in a sleeping bag at a bus stop, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 2020 Nativity scene positions Jesus, Mary and Joseph in front of a painted mural of Black Lives Matter protesters holding signs, with Mary rising from beside the cradle to stand with the protesters.
“It’s an eye-opener, just makes you think about stuff and gets people talking about what’s going on,” said visitor Jennifer Barge, KCAL reported.
The names of Black people killed in encounters with police — including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — are printed across the top of the mural.
“A lot of it I didn’t know was up there,” Barge told KCAL. “A lot of the names from when we were younger. One from 1955, he’s 14 and it’s just my kid is 19 and it just breaks my heart.”
A voicemail left at the church expressed “disappointment” at the “volatile” manger scene, the Los Angeles Times reported. The church also considered addressing the COVID-19 pandemic with its 2020 Nativity scene, but decided that racial injustice should be the theme.
“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,” the Rev. Karen Clark Ristine, the church’s senior minister, told the Los Angeles Times.
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