“And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.”
– Leviticus 19:33
A number of verses in the Scriptures offer Bible teachings about fair treatment for foreign visitors in a foreign land.
Some Bible translations use the word sojourn or sojourner, referring to one making a temporary stay.
“Do not oppress a foreign resident, since you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from that place. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.”
The message of the Bible is that we are all one in Christ, and should all be treated equally.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Our ultimate refuge and shelter is with God.
“Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge!”
The display is a controversial one: The baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph are displayed in a unique nativity scene – depicted as refugees, each separated and held in their own chain-link cage.
The display shows the baby Jesus in a wooden cradle, detained in his own chain-link cage. A few feet to his right, the Virgin Mary is held in her own cage, while a few feet to Jesus’ left, Joseph is in a separate cage.
The church responsible for the provocative crèche is the Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California.
The aim of the nativity scene is to make a statement about the separation policy of immigrant families at the US-Mexico border. The church intended to make a contentious statement and welcomes the controversy.
Another church in Los Feliz, a Los Angeles neighborhood, is also using a nativity scene with the holy family in cages to make a similar statement.
“We thought about the most famous refugee family in the world, the family of Jesus,” Rev. Karen Clark Ristine of Claremont United Methodist Church said. “What if this family sought refuge in our country today?” Ristine said in a Facebook post.
“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. Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.”
Making another statement, another nativity scene inside the church shows the family reunited.