Contemporary nativity installation damaged in hate crime in Claremont
By Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Created: 12/27/2011 04:07:41 PM PST
A contemporarily interpreted Nativity scene in front of Claremont United Methodist Church depicts three couples holding hands beneath the Star of Bethlehem: a man with a woman; a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. The star and the images of the man with a man and the woman with a woman were overturned in what Claremont Police describe as a hate crime.
CLAREMONT - Police officers have called vandalism to a contemporary Nativity display celebrating lesbian, gay and heterosexual couples as a hate crime.
The damage at Claremont United Methodist Church took place between 11 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday on the southern part of the church lawn near Foothill Boulevard, Sgt. Jason Walters said.
The three wooden displays showed images of couples - a man and a woman as well as two men and two women - each holding hands. The two displays with the same-sex couples were knocked over, but the box with the straight couple was left alone.
"It's a hate crime based on it being church property as well as the wooden box knocked over that depicted two males holding hands,"
The vandalized scene with the two "gay" image boxes and Star of Bethlehem overturned. (Courtesy)Walters said. "Nothing was written and there weren't any slurs, but it's church property and the box was knocked over."
The Rev. Dan Lewis of Claremont United Methodist Church said he was saddened by the incident.
"We have members of our church who are gay and lesbian who it sends a very personal message to," said Lewis, who learned of the vandalism on Christmas Day. "I tried to say in worship on Sunday morning that we will not let it trouble us."
For the past six years, church member and artist John Zachary has designed and built a scene on the church's front lawn. The scene has had controversial themes before, but this was the first about gay couples.
Zachary said the artwork suffered at least $3,000 worth of damage. The exhibit had three panels that weighed 600 pounds each.
His wife, Anita, said she and her husband "expect controversy. We want to cause people to think and consider that a blue-eyed baby Jesus is not everyone's idea of God."
Anita Zachary said she was upset by what she perceived as a lack of community outrage.
"I want to believe Claremont is a rather liberal community ... that's what's most upsetting is that people aren't outraged. My opinion is just that the community doesn't seem to put its money where its mouth is."
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, there will be an interfaith vigil at the church to show support for the lesbian, gay and transgender community, John Zachary said. The vigil will be open to all.
Walters said police had no suspects.
Anyone with information on the vandalism can call police at 909-399-5411.
And a reader's comment:
Bobby Darin · Top Commenter
I'm sorry, but a scene of homosexuality is not a Nativity scene, nor does it have anything to do with it. No matter how much the LGBT activists try to force people, it's never going to be completely accepted as the norm. As mentioned already, this was vandalism NOT a hate crime.
December 27 at 8:44pm
I concur. If this is a nativity scene, then I'm Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
With California having the reputation of being the "Granola State", i.e., the land of the fruits, nuts and flakes, I'm kinda surprised that the display of the heterosexual couple wasn't the one that was vandalised. Or would that be something that would only be anticipated in San Francisco and the Bay Area?
This is one more thing that contributes to the nausea I feel in living in the "enlightened" New Millennium.
Oh yeah, and Happy Friggin' New Year! LOL!