The Fellowship Congregational Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma decided to change up their nativity scene this year by erecting a chain-link fence to surround baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Although the fence encircling the nativity scene has been on display since early December, the church received national news coverage after adding “The holy family was a migrant family” text onto their marquee. In addition to highlighting the migration element within the Christmas story, the display is clearly a response to Trump's policies which seek to criminalize immigration further.
Pastor Chris Moore explained the decision during an interview with the Tulsa World. "We've put up a fence this year as a response, maybe a provocative response, to what is an immigration crisis right now," he said. Moore then hypothetically compared the immigration policies of today to those in place during Jesus' birth, reminding readers that according to various religious texts, the holy family sought asylum in Egypt after Jesus was born. "There is the account of the Holy Family just after Jesus is born fleeing oppression, and migrating to Egypt. And this sort of evokes the image of, what if the same policies we have in his country existed in Egypt at the time? Would they have found themselves locked way? Would they have found themselves behind a fence?"
The fence itself partially represents the scene at the border earlier this year, in which Trump enacted a policy that forcefully separated migrant children from their parents before being placed in cages. Although Trump revoked this measure following international criticism, he has made xenophobic immigration reform one of the administration's focal points. In addition to forced separation, Trump has spearheaded many initiatives, which aim to create an us-versus-them immigration platform—the elimination of DACA, attempting to end birthright citizenship, disallowing undocumented immigrants from seeking asylum, banning Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and more. While the president has received backlash for such actions and has not succeeded in enacting all of the policies mentioned above, immigration reform is clearly at the top of his priority list.
During his interview, Moore explained to what extent he believes the church should involve itself in political affairs. “I do think the church has a very important role to play in the political life,” he said. “It’s the partisanship that I don’t want to be involved in.”