A California church sought to make people think about the repercussions of violence, by replacing the baby Jesus with a bloody sculpture of Trayvon Martin in a nativity scene.
What they got instead were threats.
The crèche outside the church Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, Calif., includes a mannequin wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with blood spilling from its chest and pooling on the ground.
"Jesus was born at a highly violent and political time and today, we still live in highly violent society," said the Rev. Dan Lewis, a pastor at the church. "The nativity scene isn't meant to incite anger, it is mean as an artistic expression… It is meant to be thought provoking."
For eight years, the church has used art at Christmastime to make statements about hot-button social issues, including works about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, homelessness, imprisoned single mothers and the rights of immigrants.
The scene, created by artist and church member John Zachary, has been outside the church for nearly a month, said Lewis, with little reaction from the community. Since an article in the Daily Bulletin, a local paper, went viral the church has received threats and angry messages and phone calls, Lewis said.