A church out of California has stirred the pot with their controversial Nativity scene. The Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church includes Joseph and Mary, but Jesus is nowhere to be found. Instead of including Jesus in the scene, the artist that designed the scene decided to use a bleeding Trayvon Martin. Many people are furious with the altered Nativity scene, calling it "blasphemous," among other things.
Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in February 2012. Zimmerman was eventually charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The high-profile case ended in July 2013 with Zimmerman being found not guilty, a verdict that left many outraged. Since his death, Martin has become a symbol for race relations and gun violence in the U.S., which influenced artist John Zachary's decision to include Martin in the scene.
The controversial scene shows a hoodie-wearing Trayvon Martin hunched over with blood spilling out of his chest. The blood spills over to the front of the Nativity scene where the phrase, "A Child is Born, a Son is Given" is written.
Check out images of the Trayvon Martin Nativity scene below.
— Phil Shuman (@FoxPhil) December 30, 2013
nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church in Calif., features a bloody figure of Trayvon Martin. pic.twitter.com/7nmUVHBV39
— WePay Teh World (@LittleF0ot) December 30, 2013
Zachary, the Nativity scene designer, insists he wasn't trying to make a religious statement with his inclusion of Martin. Instead, Zachary says he is trying to send a message about gun violence. “My feeling about it is that we have so many guns in our country and there are so many killings and it’s unique to our children. And I think that people still need to talk about it in a reasonable manner until there’s something done about it,” Zachary said.
The artist also said that he hopes that, like Jesus, Martin will be seen as a symbol of hope. "He was, in my view, an innocent child like the innocent children killed by King Herod," Zachary said. "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."
As you can see from the Twitter posts below, some people don't think that using Trayvon Martin in the Nativity scene was remotely appropriate.
Wrong on so many levels. Christmas is about Jesus, not travon martin. http://t.co/0donQnQXdI
— Joshua McLarty (@Drumerjosh) December 26, 2013
— Fred Glover (@MrFredEGlover) December 30, 2013
Image via YouTube