- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2013

A church in Claremont, Calif., has stirred controversy over this year’s nativity scene, in which a bloody Trayvon Martin has taken the place of baby Jesus.

The nativity scene, which shows the slain teen slumped over in a hoodie, was created by John Zachary, a congregant at the Claremont United Methodist Church, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mr. Zachary said he chose Martin as the center of nativity scene in order to stay relevant to the times and spark a discussion about gun control.

“[Trayvon] was, in my view, an innocent child like the innocent children killed by King Herod,” he 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.”

Trayvon was fatally shot during an altercation in February 2012 by George Zimmerman, in a case that drew worldwide attention. Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges earlier this year.

Lead pastor Rev. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett said she could understand if some people found the depiction “too edgy.”

“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,” she told the Daily Bulletin. “We have to take a look at the violence.”

The scene will remain in place at the church through Jan. 5.

Backlash to the scene was swift.

“How sad to replace the Savior in the nativity scene,” one person posted on Facebook. “What kind of church is this??? I pray that you will understand the real reason for the season…”

“No Christian I know would ever disparage Jesus Christ with such a repulsive image,” wrote another. “I would never attend your church as a fellow Methodist and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”



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