LOS ANGELES – An unusual Nativity display at a Claremont church that conveyed a gay couple was vandalized over the weekend in an incident authorities are investigating as a hate crime.
Claremont United Methodist Church has a Christmas tradition of unusual Nativity displays, intended to carry a social or political message.
Despite some of the controversial topics, the scenes had never been vandalized or defaced, according to church officials and John Zachary, the artist who created the scenes.
But this year, suspects vandalized a Nativity scene that included wooden light boxes with three couples holding hands – a man and a woman, two women and two men – under a star of Bethlehem and a sign that said “Christ is Born.”
Church officials came in before the Christmas morning service to find that someone had pushed over the two gay couples and left the heterosexual couple standing. No suspects have been identified.
The church has never shied away from controversial topics, including a scene of war in the Middle East, a mother and baby in prison and a depiction of the U.S./Mexico border fence.
One year, the Nativity depicted a homeless family. The scene prompted an impromptu outpouring of giving, with congregation members leaving donations of food, clothing and money.