Trayvon Martin nativity scene: Sacrilege or creative provocation?

A still from the Daily Breeze's interview with artist John Zachary on his controversial nativity scene featuring shooting victim Trayvon Martin at Claremont United Methodist Church.
A still from the Daily Breeze's interview with artist John Zachary on his controversial nativity scene featuring shooting victim Trayvon Martin at Claremont United Methodist Church. Youtube

A nativity scene on the lawn of Claremont United Methodist Church is creating some post-Christmas angst. 

The display depicts Trayvon Martin, a young black man who was shot and killed in Florida, in place of the infant Jesus, in a black hoodie, bleeding from an apparent bullet wound. Congregant and artist John Zachary told the Daily Bulletin that he created the piece to spur discussion on gun violence.

The church's Rev. Dan Lewis said the scene featuring the Florida teenager was meant to ignite discussion, the Los Angeles Times reported

Zachary, who has created nativity scenes for the church for many years, said he uses the nativity tradition to frame contemporary issues in the framework of  Jesus' teachings. 

"For just about all the years that I've done them I've tried to make them contemporary issues that are provocative as they relate to the nativity story."

Artist John Zachary on using Trayvon Martin in his nativity scene

But the discussion on the church's Facebook page — as well as on Twitter and around the web where images of the scene have gone viral — has surrounded whether the nativity installation is blasphemous, with some relating it to the agressive religious activism of other churches in recent years, including the controversial Westboro Baptist Church — best known for demonstrating at funerals of U.S. war dead.  

 
The AP reports the scene will remain in place at the church 35 miles east of Los Angeles through Jan. 5.
 

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