Trayvon Martin Replaces Jesus in Nativity Scene

California church is more 'brave' than subtle, says passerby

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 29, 2013 4:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Most nativity scenes include three wise men and a stable. The one at Claremont United Methodist Church in California has replaced Jesus with Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie, his heart pouring blood, the Los Angeles Times reports. "What if Jesus was lying there bleeding to death?" says the artist, John Zachary, reports the Daily Bulletin. "I was kind of thinking of that." A native Tennessean who grew up Methodist, Zachary says he thought the scene would be "more controversial," but learned that people of all political stripes "don’t really like people gettin' shot."

Zachary has been building provocative nativity scenes for the Claremont church east of Los Angeles since 2007. His scenes included Jesus and Mary as a modern homeless couple, Iraq war refugees, and Mexican migrants; one depicted an African-American woman cradling Jesus in prison. As for this year's, some reactions have been scathing. "How sad to replace the Savior in the nativity scene," posted one person on Facebook. "What kind of church is this???" But in the Times and Bulletin stories, passersby seem more balanced: "That is brave," said a 22-year-old student. "Subtlety isn't at work here. ... I will say, it got our attention."

Trayvon Martin depicted in a nativity scene.   (YouTube)
This undated file family photo shows Trayvon Martin.   (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)
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Artist John Zachary shows his nativity scene that replaces Jesus with Trayvon Martin.   (YouTube)

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