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Baby Jesus and Virgin Mary caged, separated in Christmas Nativity scene in California church

Christmas Nativity scene this year by putting baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and Joseph in separate cages

Los Angeles, Dec 10 (UITV/IANS)- A California church has adapted its Christmas Nativity scene this year by putting baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and Joseph in separate cages to highlight the separation of families by the President Donald Trump administration to deter undocumented migrants from illegally entering the US.

The Nativity scene, at the United Methodist Church in Claremont, a town 51 km east of Los Angeles, was set up on its grounds to denounce the situation being faced by refugees who come to the US, Efe news reported.

The Christmas display has sparked controversy, with the caged figurines of Mary and Joseph placed on either side of the cage containing Jesus in the manger.

"We see this as, in some ways, the Holy Family standing in for the nameless families," Rev Karen Clark Ristine, the head pastor at the church, said on Monday.

"We've heard of their plight; we've seen how these asylum seekers have been greeted and treated. We wanted the Holy Family to stand in for those nameless people because they also were refugees," she added.

Ristine also posted images of the Nativity scene on the church's Facebook page, saying that the scene recreates the moment when, according to most Biblical interpretations, the Holy Family was forced to flee from Nazareth to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod, who was bent on killing all children he thought might pose a threat to his rule.

They feared persecution and death, Ristine emphasized, much like many of the migrants who currently head for the US from Central America, for instance.

For those who prefer a more traditional Nativity scene, there is another one inside the church, Ristine said.

This is not the first time that the church has used its yearly Nativity scene to call for attention to a social issue.

In 2014, it placed Jesus in Mary's arms and the presents brought by the Three Kings in a little shopping cart at a bus stop in a call to viewers to reflect on poverty in the US.

The two figures of mother and child were outfitted in wet clothing with a blanket to cover themselves. Beside them, the little cart held bags of belongings and other items, a standard feature of many homeless people in the US.

Another church in the Los Feliz sector of Los Angeles is also putting the Holy Family in cages in another controversial representation during the Christmas holiday season, characteristically known as a time of charity for all and goodwill toward men.