The Pen

Church Puts Nativity Scene in Cage to Protest Trump

Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis has placed a nativity set of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ-child in a cage on the front lawn of the meeting house. Their purpose is to protest American immigration law, which they believe to be unbiblical and unloving.

The caged nativity set at Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, which also calls itself, “Little Church on the Circle,” is one of the oldest churches in the Indianapolis area and today has an outreach primarily to Hispanic individuals. The website asserts that the church is “open,” “welcoming,” and values creativity. The website claims that it is “an advocate for the Hispanic and LGBT community.” Currently, Christ Church Cathedral is the pro-cathedral (the temporary headquarters) of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

According to church leadership, the congregation is protesting President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Steven Carlson, the church’s “pastor,” says that the church is aghast that the POTUS is enforcing U.S. immigration law, and that it is unbiblical.

Speaking of the caged nativity set, Carlson said, “People forget what that scene means. That was a homeless couple who weren’t welcome anywhere, who took refuge in the barn, and it was to that couple that the Christ child was born.”

He continued, “What we take away from these stories is the same thing we take away from our teachings and religious ethics. The heart of God is always with those who are on the margins, who are vulnerable and have no voice.”

Recently, the church took part in the Families Belong Together rally at the Indiana Statehouse to protest immigration policy. The church also made the news in 2014 when it began to marry same-sex couples when the state’s gay marriage ban was overturned as unconstitutional.

There are no plans to take the nativity set down, and Carlson says he does not know how long they will keep it up.

Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, made similar claims in 2013. Moore called Jesus an “illegal immigrant,” and continued to claim Jesus’ law-breaking status even after he was questioned by conservative evangelicals. It is not historically tenable, however, to assert that Joseph and Mary broke Egyptian immigration law in their flight from Herod.