Claremont United Methodist Church of Claremont, California is a loving church that both welcomes and accepts gay and lesbian congregation members. So in light of this the Church’s Nativity scene for Christmas display’s three panels featuring silhouettes of three hand-holding couples — two men, two women and a heterosexual pair.
On late Saturday or Sunday morning vandal knocked over and caused over $3000 worth of damage the depictions of the gay and lesbian couples but left the straight couple alone.
The display created by artist church member John Zachary includes the phrase “Christ is born” and a Star of Bethlehem but no traditional manger figures. For the past six years, 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.
“We have members of our church who are gay and lesbian who it sends a very personal message to,” said the Church’s pastor Reverend Dan 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.”
The vandalism is being investigated as a hate crime.
“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,” police Sgt. Jason Walters