California Forum

A Sacramento church asks: Would we have caged the migrant family of Jesus Christ?

“Seeking Asylum in America Today,” a Nativity scene erected by the Parkside Community Church in Sacramento, invites comparisons between the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant families and the treatment of Jesus Christ.
“Seeking Asylum in America Today,” a Nativity scene erected by the Parkside Community Church in Sacramento, invites comparisons between the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant families and the treatment of Jesus Christ.

As I passed Parkside Community Church on my way to my gym on the Fourth of July a powerful tableau caught my attention. Kneeling on the church lawn were the figures of Mary and Joseph penned in a cage constructed of chicken wire. A few feet away, baby Jesus lay in his manger, penned in another chicken wired cage – mother, father and child, separated, unable to touch. A crudely lettered sign next to the cages read, “Seeking Asylum in America Today.”

Parkside has never been shy about its political leanings in this era of Trump meanness. For months a sign that read “Our Muslim Neighbors are Welcome” has stood proudly on the church lawn. But this appropriation of the traditional Nativity scene (an Indianapolis church erected a similar holiday week installation) was something altogether more provocative, a challenge to all the Christians of our city, myself included.

There are times when evil takes so cruel a turn that a response is required. Snatching babies from mothers whose only crime is that they sought safety for themselves and their children is such a time.

I know from my own churchgoing experience that strong political stances are an anathema to most churches. And I get that. Church should be a refuge, a place for quiet prayer and meditation, a respite from the strident political discourse that pollutes our everyday lives.

But there are times when evil takes so cruel a turn that a response is required. Snatching babies from mothers whose only crime is that they sought safety for themselves and their children is such a time.

When responding to those who criticized his actions during the civil rights struggle, the Rev. Martin Luther King said, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

We who call ourselves Christians must not remain silent in the face of the inhuman policies of a tyrannical president. We must oppose them in any non-violent way we can. Nowhere have I seen opposition to evil more powerfully, peacefully and eloquently demonstrated than by that nativity scene at Parkside Community Church.

Ginger Rutland was an editorial writer at The Sacramento Bee for 25 years and now writes plays. She can be contacted at ginger.rutland@sbcglobal.net.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments