Trayvon Martin Depicted In Church Nativity Scene

By: Amanda Crum - December 30, 2013

One church in California has decided to forgo the classic nativity scene this holiday season and turned it into a controversial piece of art instead.

Claremont United Methodist Church tapped artist John Zachary to turn the manger scene we’re all familiar with into something topical in order to get people talking, and it worked. For several years now, Zachary has created pieces of installation art at Christmas to illustrate the story for today, and this December he took it even further, replacing Jesus with a hoodie-wearing figure representing Trayvon Martin. A bright red stream of blood flows from his chest to the floor of the nativity scene, representing the bullet wound Martin succumbed to last year.

“I found this year’s hard to look at. It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death. But even though I’m uncomfortable with it, that’s the point,” Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, lead pastor for the church, said. “We have to take a look at the violence.”

Zachary says the point of the installation is to draw attention to the similarities between the dark times we face and those faced in Biblical times.

“He was, in my view, an innocent child like the innocent children killed by King Herod,” Zachary said of Martin. “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 scene has garnered quite a bit of attention since it was set up earlier this month, and social media users have taken to Facebook to complain about the installation on the church’s page, calling it disrespectful. The artist himself says he had reservations about setting it up–more so than in previous years, when the subjects told stories of homelessness and gay rights–but felt that in itself was a reason to do it.

“I have had reservations, although I have come to think that it’s the right way to do it,” he said. “I feel a little sad that some people are so outraged about it.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Amanda CrumAmanda Crum is a writer and artist from Kentucky. She's a fan of Edward Gorey, Hunter S. Thompson, and horror movies. You can follow her on Google:+Amanda Crum

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  • What?

    Really? I don’t like George Zimmerman. He is a nut. I will say this a thousand times. Anyone who is in a neighborhood watch person looking for trouble, anyone setting people up, or any entrapping another human being is a crazy person. In fact, I believe they are agents of the devil because really what they are doing is creating bad circumstances by tempting people. I knew a woman once, who used to set up men on the internet. This woman was literally crazy and she had a criminal background. I am convinced many innocent men went to prison because of her craziness. I know she didn’t turn over all the stuff she was doing and saying to the men. She simply lied a lot. She was crazy. Trayvon died because of George’s craziness.


    Trayvon Martin was not a “child”. He wasn’t that little innocent boy that they showed so often. He was a full grown man. I grow so tired of hearing that teenagers are children. What do we see in the news every day? We have teenagers stabbing elderly people because they are bored, teenagers using drugs like crazy, teenagers having sex like rabbits, young girls purposely going after sex with older men, young boys purposely plotting to kill people, teenagers stealing cars for kicks, teenagers fighting over race, now we have teenagers stabbing over race and heck, I just saw a story on how steroid use is rampant at high schools. Teenagers are as big as adults and are doing everything adults are doing. The reality is that our teenagers are not children. They completely know what they are doing and they should be held responsible for their own choices. Why do you think things are not getting better? It is simply because teenagers are never held responsible for anything.

    The whole situation was unfortunate. On one side, we have a crazy man stalking people and looking for trouble. On the other side, we have a fully grown man that did display a tendency to want to a be a gang member. Gang members are not people you want to be around. Some are decent and trapped in the lifestyle, but the vast majority are horrible people. Go to the prisons. 95% of the prison violence is done by the gangs. Not the murderers, not the rapists, not the domestic violence person, not the druggie, not the sex offender. It is the gang member. They rape, rob, steal, stab, fight, and kill in prisons. It is a mentality.

    I believe both are at fault. Two morons unfortunately met one day. Although, if dumbass Zimmerman would have just minded his own business nothing would have happened. So, really I put more blame on him. However, Trayvon Martin is not Jesus Christ. In fact, I would imagine Jesus Christ is wondering how can he save both George and Tayvon. That is what we forget in society. We tend to look at one person as good and one as bad. What Christ knew is that no one is good. No one. Including himself. We all need his mercy. All of us. Frankly, all of us are to blame for the violence in the world. We all are complicit in some way to the violence. Either we don’t help, we aren’t kind, we don’t care, we think we are better than other people. There is a thousand ways to be guilty of something.

    • @What?

      Nothing is as black and white as people make it out to be. I worked at a prison. I saw cops kill people because of ego and because they were on a power trip. I literally saw a cop talk about how he had a hit squad and he would kill any inmate he wanted. I saw inmates save other inmates lives. I have seen completely innocent inmates. I will go to my grave telling people this. In this world, nothing is black or white. There are not absolutes. I guess that is why in the bible Saul became Paul. A killer changed into a man of God. Jesus was the smartest and most inciteful person who ever lived. If you really sit down and think about what he did and said. It was amazing. Human beings don’t believe in redemption. Christ did. He understood that really until we truly love each other and help each other, nothing will ever change. Like I said, I worked in a prison. Prisons don’t work. Half the people don’t belong there and really could be helped in less harmful ways. The other half need a lot of help and all prisons do is warehouse people. They stick people in rooms. That is all. Prisons do make money though. Don’t let anyone fool you with numbers. I saw the prison work camps and industrial plants. They are very profitable. Prison is a business.

  • CE

    I still don’t know why he wasn’t the one standing his “ground”. He expressed fear about being followed, and he was eventually confronted by a man in the dark. Does the last one living get to claim the stand your ground defense?

  • CE

    I still don’t know why he wasn’t the one standing his “ground”. He expressed fear about being followed, and he was eventually confronted by a man in the dark. Does the last one living get to claim the stand your ground defense? The kid died because he went out at night to get a snack and was targeted by the “good citizen” George.