Mary and Joseph were refugees after the birth of Jesus, seeking asylum in Egypt to protect the baby from a king who sought to kill him—and so, to protest President Trump's immigration policies, a Indianapolis church has placed the holy family in a cage on its lawn. "This family is every family, and every family is holy," Rev. Lee Curtis of Christ Church Cathedral, a self-described "progressive" Episcopal church, tells the Indy Star. The church put up Nativity statues, typically used at Christmas, surrounded by chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire Monday night to protest Trump's controversial "zero-tolerance" border policy. In a statement, the church says the policy has led to "humanitarian atrocities," CBS News reports. "On our lawn tonight we placed The Holy Family...in #ICE detention," the church tweeted. A sign placed near the cage reads #EveryFamilyIsHoly.
"We heard a lot of the Bible quoted, people trying to say what scripture justifies and doesn’t justify," Rev. Stephen Carlsen, the dean and rector of the church, tells Fox 59. "Our tradition, our sacred traditions, are crystal clear. People who come to us for safety, for refuge are just like everyone in our families. Our job as faithful people is to welcome people with mercy. ... God’s heart is compassion." Carlsen is a member of a local group that advocates for immigrants, and both he and Curtis attended one of the many Families Belong Together rallies held Saturday; Curtis tells NBC News many members of the congregation are first- or second-generation immigrants. Passers-by said the church's display was a good way to bring more attention to the issue: "It just makes me think about those families that are separated and pray for them," said one. Adds a member of the church, "It's a perfect way to show what's happening. It's families in cages. This is a family that resonates with a lot of people." (Read more border separations stories.)