Just in time for the Fourth of July, a church is protesting US family separation policy by detaining baby Jesus in a cage.
The Episcopalian Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, Indiana, put a chain-link fence around statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on its cathedral lawn on Monday night, BBC reports.
The church’s Twitter account tweeted on Wednesday, proclaiming “Good morning and Happy Fourth of July” with a photo of the caged statues.
In a statement, the dean and rector of the church, Stephen Carlsen, offered an explanation for the caged holy family.
“Holy Scripture is clear about how we are to treat people trying to find safety for their families—we are to show mercy and welcome them. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were homeless and fled danger to seek asylum,” the statement read.
“The Holy Family today calls us to stand with all families seeking safety and a future for their children,” it continued. “We will not stand by while children are being taken from their parents, and families are being taken from our communities and congregations.”
The church said that its campaign is “designed to bring awareness to the humanitarian atrocities from our nation’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies on the border and here in Indianapolis.”
Reverend Canon Lee Curtis, who told the Indy Star he came up with the idea, said that a number of the church’s congregants are first- or second-generation immigrants. The church also had a rally on June 30, #FamiliesBelongTogether, to condemn migrant children being separated from their families.
The church’s lawn protest has received both praise and criticism on social media. On its Facebook, commenters thanked the church for its “powerful statement,” while others expressed outrage. One even claimed the church’s display was “blasphemy.” Oh my.
Trump signed an executive order to stop the family separation policy on June 20; instead, families are to be detained together. Still, thousands of children previously separated have yet to be reunited with their parents.
“We want an end for family detention,” Curtis told NBC. “Families, all families, every family, is holy, and we hope and pray that families who are seeking out a better life for their kids are afforded that opportunity.”