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A ‘Homeless Jesus’ Statue Had The Cops Called On It—Within 20 Minutes Of It Being Installed

StBarnabasBV/Twitter

A Cleveland church sparked backlash online after installing a bronze statue of Jesus sleeping on a park bench.

The display—located at St. Barnabas Bay Village Episcopal Church—also made enough of an impression on a spectator that he called the police to report what he mistook as a sleeping homeless person.

“Homeless Jesus” made its debut at the University of Toronto in 2013 and has since been installed at other locations around the world.

Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz created the statue depicting the Son of God wrapped in a blanket with his feet exposed and laying on a bench, which is also part of the sculpture.

The artist’s intention was to raise awareness and dignify homelessness in communities around the world.

While the statue was meant to invoke contemplation from passersby, it also sparked confusion.

Alex Martin, who is a priest at St. Barnabas Church, tweeted:

“Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homelss man sleeping on a park bench.”

“Within twenty minutes…”

Online, the church’s initial tweet with photos of “Homeless Jesus” riled those who thought the statue was exploitative of the savior’s piety.

They also slammed the congregation for not providing the destitute with actual benches and blankets instead.

Others defended the display and argued its message was widely misunderstood.

In response to the controversy, the church tweeted:

“If anyone wants to help, please use this link to give. Select “Homeless Jesus” and every penny raised will be used to feed, clothe, and house those in need.”

“Hopefully some good will come from all this.”

This was not the first time the statue of Jesus as a vagrant created controversy.

When it arrived on the grounds of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson, North Carolina in 2014, one woman reported the statue to police after also mistaking it for a homeless person.

Neighbors who were disturbed by the statue wrote letters to the church demanding its removal.

 

Koh Mochizuki

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1