Trayvon Martin replaced baby Jesus in one southern California church’s Nativity scene, according to a Dec. 29 Fox News report. The controversial Nativity scene depicting a bloody Martin is part of the church’s efforts to engage the community in gun violence discussions.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Claremont United Methodist Church’s Nativity scene featuring a bleeding Martin slumped over in hoodie was created by one of its congregants, John Zachary, who for many years has brought his artistic interpretations of the Nativity to the church. His goal? To convey themes, including joy and innocence, as well as spread messages of social justice.
“He was, in my view, an innocent child like the innocent children killed by King Herod,” the 57-year-old artist said of the deceased teen. “I think the Nativity has to be relevant to our time. I think Jesus is a symbol of hope and I think he has to be seen in today's context.”
The church's Rev. Dan Lewis says the tribute to Martin is thought provoking, but critics around the country disagree, slamming the depiction has sacrilege.
Facebook posts about the Nativity scene are garnering attention. “How sad to replace the Savior in the nativity scene,” one Facebook user wrote on the social media site. “What kind of church is this??? I pray that you will understand the real reason for the season...”
Another user posted, “No Christian I know would ever disparage Jesus Christ with such a repulsive image. I would never attend your church as a fellow Methodist and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”
The church plans to keep the controversial scene in place at the church 35 miles east of Los Angeles through Jan. 5.