A church in downtown Indianapolis has erected a diorama of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus sitting in a cage on the church's front lawn.
The setup is intended to protest President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that has lead to the separation of families at the border and the holding of children in cages at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.
“When I read the stories of the Holy Family in scripture, they were in the middle of some pretty heated things," Dean Stephen Carlsen told RTV6. "They had to flee for asylum in Egypt. ... The powers of the day were threatening and indeed killing people in Jesus’s day. They were a homeless family with nowhere to stay. I think our faith tells us where we need to be.”
“The fact that it’s controversial isn’t because I want to be controversial,” the dean continued. “What’s controversial is that we are turning away from the values that should be guiding us. The point of a religious icon is to move our hearts, and if at first people are upset by it, that might just be God trying to move their heart. And I hope their hearts soften.”
In a statement provided to media, the dean said, "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. ... We will not stand by while children are being taken from their parents, and families are being taken from our communities and congregations. People of good will and faith must not allow this to continue."
Asked by local media how long the church intended to leave the diorama up, the rector replied, “How long will we keep detaining families indefinitely?”
"My greatest hope would be that our nation will search its heart and say this is not who we want to be,” he added.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Carlsen and Christ Church Cathedral for additional comment.