An unusual nativity display at a suburban Los Angeles church that included artistic silhouettes of gay couples was vandalized over the weekend in an incident authorities are investigating as a hate crime.

 

Claremont United Methodist Church is known for its unusual and sometimes controversial nativity displays that carry a social or political message.

Despite some of the controversial topics, church officials say their nativity scenes had never been vandalized or defaced. But this year, someone vandalized a scene that included wooden cut outs of three couples holding hands -- a man and a woman, two women, and two men -- all standing under a star of Bethlehem and a sign that said "Christ is Born."

via >2011 CUMC Nativity.

The Claremont rector says sometime early Christmas morning they found that someone had pushed over the two gay couples and left the heterosexual couple standing.  No suspects have been identified.

One openly gay member of the church says "It's a reminder that although there are pockets of acceptance, not everybody is accepting."

This church has never shied away from controversial topics. Past nativity scenes have depicted the homeless, the war in the Middle East, a mother and baby in prison, and the U.S./Mexico border fence.

In 1993, the church made a decision to be a "reconciling congregation" which welcomes gay, lesbian and transgender members.

(photo of nativity scene via Claremont UMC)