Mixed reaction to church’s display of Jesus, Mary & Joseph in cage

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A display outside a church on Monument Circle is stirring mixed reactions. 

Christ Cathedral Church erected what looks like barbed wire and a cage around statues of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 

Church leaders say the display is symbolic and their way of protesting against U.S. immigration policies and practices. They say the Holy Family sought safety and fled to Egypt just as immigrants coming to the U.S. are now seeking safety. 

“This is a religion icon,” Christ Cathedral Church Dean Stephen Carlsen said. “It is meant to provoke us to compassion and mercy.”

The church is launching a campaign to spread the message “every family is holy.”

“Sometimes the good news has to confront powers that are treating the vulnerable badly,” Carlsen said. 

The church dean said he is hearing positive feedback. 

But from John Attebury from Speedway, there is no glowing review. He walked by the display Tuesday. 

“I guess my first thought is, we have laws here. We’re a country of laws. Those people were breaking the law. They knew they were breaking the law,” Attebury said. 

Myriam Janty is an immigrant from Haiti who works downtown. 

“I thought it was a really powerful message,” Janty said. “The symbology of it kind of was striking to me. It really puts things in perspective.”

Andrew Catlin, who recently attended a local protest against immigration policies, called the display “a stone in the water.”

“Honestly, it seems kind of small compared to some of the other things going on in the city, like the protests and marches,” Catlin said. 

Carlsen said the display will be outside the church “as long as it needs to be” or as long as it is effective. 

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