Church ‘detains’ Jesus, Mary, Joseph to protest Trump’s immigration …

This Tuesday, July 3, 2018 photo shows statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in a cage of fencing topped with barbed wired on the lawn of Monument Circle's Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis. The statues were erected to protest the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. (Ebony Cox/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (USA Today) — Nativity statues of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which usually mark Christmas, were incarcerated Tuesday behind a barbed-wired-topped, chain-link fence on the lawn of the cathedral of the Episcopal Church’s Indianapolis Diocese.

The caged holy family protests President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which has resulted in holding families arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border in detention centers, said the Rev. Stephen Carlsen, dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral.

“I know what the Bible said,” Carlsen said. “We’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

The Rev. Lee Curtis, who also serves at Christ Church and came up with the idea for the demonstration, said the biblical trio was a family of refugees seeking asylum in Egypt after Jesus’ birth.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him,'” according to the New King James Version of Matthew 2:13-14. “When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.”

Said Curtis: “This holy family is every family, and every family is holy.”

The church set up the caged nativity scene Monday night as part of its #EveryFamilyIsHoly campaign.

RELATED: Churches connect Christmas story to refugee crisis

This is not the first time the downtown Indianapolis church, the  has weighed in on social issues. The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has more than 9,000 members in almost 50 churches across the southern two-thirds of Indiana.

The clergy of the self-described “progressive” Episcopal congregation, Carlsen and Curtis, attended the Families Belong Together rally Saturday to protest family separation and detention.

Curtis also brought a group of youth in March to the March for Our Lives rally in Washington. Carlsen attended the Indianapolis rally at the Indiana Statehouse with a group from the church.

The church has become progressive in recent years, especially since deciding to marry same-sex couples when Indiana legalized such marriage in 2014, Carlsen said.

Its immigrant advocacy stems from the church’s diverse congregation, he said.

“This is an easy one for us,” said Carlsen, a member of the Faith in Indiana group that advocates for immigrants. “It doesn’t feel like we’re out campaigning. This is about people I know and love, and I’m going to stand with them.”

RELATED: Faith-based agencies open doors to kids separated at the border

Mark Reckart, who is a member of Christ Church Cathedral, said he is proud of his church for putting up the demonstration.

“It’s a perfect way to show what’s happening. It’s families in cages,” Reckart said. “This is a family that resonates with a lot of people.”

People walking by said the display was a powerful way to bring awareness to the situation at the border.

“I think it’s bold,” said Matthew Roberts of Indianapolis. “It just makes me think about those families that are separated and pray for them.”

“They were one of the first refugees,” said Aija Evonen, a visitor from Finland. “It’s a good sign. I appreciate it.”

“I think Jesus intended everybody to get along and be free. Nobody should be enslaved,” said Randy Sylvia of Indianapolis. “I just think it’s wrong.”

Fred Andrews, a sexton at Christ Church Cathedral, said he hopes the demonstration reminds people to vote in the next election.

“It’s sad,” Andrews said. “Somewhere along the line, I guess, just hoping for a better life has been lost because it’s politics involved.”

About the author

Faith E. Pinho


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  • Yeah, good luck. White evangelical America doesn’t really want to hear that message.

  • Remember that this is the cathedral of the Indianapolis Diocese of the Episcopal Church, not an evangelical church.

  • Funny but no historical records support a mass slaughter of males two years and younger. I’m not convinced that there was a flight to Egypt.

  • Bob’s right. Evangelicals think Episcopalians are a bunch of heathens. They aren’t listening, but I very much doubt that the good people of Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis much care – they know that those people will never be reached anyway. They’re simply witnessing to the truth of their faith in a way that communicates something to people in the wider community whose hearts and minds are actually open to the truth.

  • There certainly was a flight to Egypt and I was on it. KLM 2234, Chicago to Cairo, non-stop. They lost my luggage.

    But seriously, folks… Faith isn’t about documentation or literal fact. There are mythological and allegorical elements in the Scriptures.

  • So, you pick and chose what parts of scripture you want to believe. How convenient.

  • Detained, but thanks to our beloved President prompt and courageous reversal of the evil and misguided policy imposed by the Deep State in Washington on the heroic men and women of ICE to embarrass our God-anointed Leader, not divided.

  • I’m an atheist and in my opinion the Bible is mostly mythology though some accounts might have historical backing. With a few exceptions (Jehovah’s Witnesses and similar fundamentalists) most Christians do pick what scriptures to believe.

  • The fun comes when folks argue over what is literal and what is metaphorical. I would expect a better written and more accurate book from a god purported to have created our universe. Yes I know the standard arguments for its cryptic nature but that’s just an excuse.

  • For what it’s worth, I don’t believe God wrote the book. To even call it “a” book is inaccurate. It’s really a library written over hundreds of years by many authors using various literary forms. The believer sees truth. You don’t. I get that.

  • Evangelicals don’t think Episcopalians are evangelical.

    That appears to be a fair assessment.

  • Evangelicals aren’t even the largest group of protestants in America and the The National Association of Evangelicals has already condemned what Trump is doing to asylum seekers.

  • Bible is full of people who sought asylum in other countries.

    It’s no wonder seemingly every large denomination has condemned the madness of Trump.

  • Here’s the insane form Trump’s ICE makes parents fill out to ask for their children back

    Piece of crap ICE drafted the form with two options:
    1. I wish to be reunited with my children and repatriated to my country of origin
    2. I am leaving the country and leaving my children behind to pursue claims of relief

    Forgetting there is a third one: Stay in the country and have your asylum claim submitted to USCIS.

    People are being coerced into signing them before seeing immigration courts or seeing counsel. The government is literally holding children ransom in order to keep parents from filing asylum claims which are their right.

    HHS continues to refuse to provide updated numbers on child migrants who have been reunified. No details & no message about how the process is going. They say 11,800 total unaccompanied children in their care/affiliated centers.

    The Trump Administration evidently doesn’t like rule of law, due process or trust immigration professionals to perform their job in evaluating immigration claims.

    One of the most important groups working on behalf of those detained in the Trump concentration camps is RAICES (he Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services)

  • SAME SAME? Or no same same? “Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph [by name] … the biblical trio was a family of refugees seeking asylum in Egypt after Jesus’ birth” – the same as “families arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border in detention centers”?! “‘I know what the Bible said,’ [dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Stephen] Carlsen said.” And I go, NO YOU DON’T, STEVIE. FYI: “Families arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border in detention centers” were never ever “seeking asylum in Egypt after Jesus’ birth”. Just as “Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph” were never ever “arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border in detention centers”. So no same same there, ‘yo! – because that’s not “what the Bible said” at all. Not at all.

  • Name 3 of such biblical “people who sought asylum in other countries.” I wanna fact-check your sources.

  • Which is basically a legal front which files suits and provides little or no relief to illegal immigrants.

  • Not so fast. How so, pray tell, this “reversal” against “the Deep State”? I’ve always thought they’re behind US Immigration politics. Prove me wrong.

  • My thoughts, exactly. (I think. It’s safer to disagree than to agree around here at St. RNS, see.)

  • As a youth I spent years as a Jehovah Witness studying the bible. I used concordances, Greek interlinear translations, varied bible translations, external sources such as Josephus. I studied bible archaeology and history. I naively tried to scientifically show a global flood was possible. I was sincere. There was no truth (objectively) there. College put the final nails in the coffin of religion as I refined my critical thinking skills and pursued science.

  • Sounds to me like you were searching for facts. That’s not the same as truth. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Have a nice 4th of July.

  • Early Egyptian reliefs depict foreigners entering Egypt, but there is a scribe recording
    the event. The coming of uninvited peoples was not always welcome, and could incur slavery or death..

  • I read about the people that article mentioned, but, excepting David, just one guy, mind, none of them were “people who sought asylum in other countries.” It says, “King David … lives as an asylum-seeker on multiple occasions (e.g., 1 Samuel 21:10).” He happened to be one “major Old Testament” figure who was not one of many “asylum-seekers” – but just the very one and only. Because that article mentions no other “asylum-seekers”. I had asked for 3, but you gave me only 1.

  • Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “When freedom is in jeopardy, non-co-operation may be a duty and prison may be a palace. I care so deeply about this matter that I’m willing to take on the legal penalties, to sit in this prison cell, to sacrifice my freedom, in order to show you how deeply I care. Because when you see the depth of my concern, and how civil I am in going about this, you’re bound to change your mind about me, to abandon your rigid, unjust position, and to let me help you see the truth of my cause”.

  • You seemed to have missed the point. I was referring your comment about shutting down freedom of discussion, especially differing opinions.

  • You seem to have missed the point that it is not OK to have the opinion that homosexuality is an abomination.

  • Dude. Charlotte is my crazy girlfriend. Don’t try to talk or reason with her; just tell her to go home.

  • With a bit of virtue signaling on here….anybody willing to take so called (illegal) immigrants in to feed, clothe, house them? Anybody willing to get them down to the medicaid and food stamp office…so they can get their “aid” that we so gladly give? Anybody? Anybody? Look, I’m NOT against immigrants coming over here or seeking asylum LEGALLY. They need to come with their paperwork so they can be documented…just have the paperwork and make it legit. I’m also not opposed to helping them once they are here legitimately. EVERY country on this planet has rules and regulations to becoming a citizen. A few countries will not allow citizenship. Why should we be any different?

  • By your logic, your opinion over rides other opinions, hence these others are an abomination, & must be snuffed out.

    Same logic the Brown Shirts used.

  • I’m talking about ideas, or opinions, not personalizing it to a person. There is a difference.

  • I know there are 6 letters in Joseph, but I had asked for 3 names. Joseph with 6 letters to his name is still just 1 name. 2 more names and then you can go.

  • Kid you’re confused, I felt sorry for you so I gave you one for free.

    If you want more you’re going to have to read the Bible.

    I know that must be terrifying for the unchurched liked yourself but it’s worth it.

  • HpO to irondrake: “Name 3 of such biblical ‘people who sought asylum in other countries.’ I wanna fact-check your sources.”

    irondrake to HpO: “I gave you one for free.”

    HpO to irondrake: “So 3 = 1 where you come from. And so if and when a Grade Specifier comes over there, what’s the grade you’re comfortable with, will you tell her? And what about your Sunday School classification?”

  • All those asylum-seekers were willing to obey – within reason – the laws of the lands they went to. MS-13 is a criminal gang, bent on destroying American law and order. Only a dipstick thinks Trump is in the wrong protecting us from that!

  • Did Joseph or David join violent gangs, get death-worshiping tattoos, extort others, refuse asylum from other nations offering it, wear shirts that glorify violence and anarchy, terrorize other nations standing in their way, demand to live off welfare, try to hop the fence rather than go through the gate, behead those who criticized them, or rape someone’s children and pets? No?

    Then stop pretending you can compare them to the caravan. Apples and manchineels.

  • That church can’t be bothered to get any information straight:

    1. MS-13 is a violent gang of marauders, bent on violence and anarchy.
    2. “He who does not enter through the gate, and obey the laws of the land he enters, is a thief and a robber.” – Jesus’ OWN WORDS!
    3. Heaven has a gate, a wall, and a heavy vetting process! D-d-duuuuuuuh!!!
    4. Jesus was a year old, living in a house, before Joseph and family had to flee to Egypt.
    5. The family entered Egypt through the approved entrance. They went through the expatriate legal process. They obeyed the laws of Egypt. They weren’t criminal squatters or terrorists. They didn’t scream “death to Egypt,” or wipe their asses with Egyptian flags, or condemn every single thing about Egyptians and their way of life. Or try to rewrite Egyptian history to make Egyptians hate their own flesh and country.

    6. Joseph and family never sparked an insurrection. They never advocated chain migration into Egypt.
    7. Joseph got a JOB! He didn’t demand to live off Egyptian welfare (which didn’t even exist!)
    8. Trying to bypass this common sense knowledge to preach a false narrative that welcomes in evil lawbreaking terrorists is disingenuous and treasonous.

    9. Doing so with an imprisoning of a Mary, Joseph, and Jesus statue is sacrilege.
    10. To say that God wants us to have unchecked immigration and not defend ourselves from obvious external threats is patent blasphemy.

    This is not a legitimate church. It is a communist front with deluded minions, serving the NWO as eager patsies, oblivious to the satanic agenda of said NWO masters.

  • You’re going to have to trying read a Bible to find out.

    PS subject has little to do with the caravan.

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