St. Susanna’s Parish in Dedham, Massachusetts has decided to mix politics and social activism with religion — and during Christmas no less.
Instead of a traditional Nativity scene that focuses on the reason Christmas is celebrated — the birth of Jesus Christ — St. Susanna’s opted to erect a Nativity with a politically-charged message.
The church’s Nativity depicts baby Jesus in an ICE detention cage, with the three Wise Men separated by a border fence with a “Deportation” sign, CBS News reported. Above the display is a sign that reads, “Peace on Earth?”
Some glaring issues — besides the fact that it completely distracts from the meaning of Christmas — are immediately apparent with this Nativity to anyone familiar with the Bible. First and foremost is the fact that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were not migrants, nor were they illegal aliens.
They were ordered to Bethlehem to be counted for a census and to pay taxes. They were legally in the city.
Their only purpose in making their great journey to Bethlehem, particularly since Mary was pregnant, was due to the government order. They were there to fulfill their duty, then they planned on returning home.
Pastor Fr. Stephen Josoma explained the church’s unusual take on the Nativity story to CBS. “We try to take a picture of the world as it is and put it together with a Christmas message,” he said.
Fr. Josoma rejected the notion that the display was a dig at President Donald Trump or his policies, instead calling it “Gospel activism.”
“We talk about Matthew 25 feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger,” he said.
“Jesus was about taking care of one another. This is not the way to take care of one another,” he said in reference to the current situation at the border.
This is not the first time this particular church has used the Nativity in order to push a political message. According to WMUR, last year’s display “depicted some of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.”
Besides the fact that using the Nativity to push a political agenda is in poor taste, the comparison between the Holy Family and caravan migrants doesn’t hold up. Joseph and Mary didn’t violently attack any soldiers or other law enforcement officials, or break any laws in order to obtain asylum.
More importantly, there are more respectful ways of taking a stand that don’t include politicizing and corrupting a story that is so sacred to so many.