A pastor in the US state of Ohio has said that police were called to investigate after his church erected a statue depicting Jesus as a homeless man.
Alex Martin, the pastor at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, said the 911 call came in just twenty minutes after the sculpture was installed, with the concerned local believing it was a real person.
"Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Within twenty minutes..." Martin tweeted.
When the police officer arrived on the scene, he quickly realised a mistake had been made, Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure confirmed to local outlet the Cleveland Scene. "If this was a person laying on a bench, the officer would have made sure the person was not in any sort of medical distress," Leasure wrote in an email.
"If the person was, the officer would have been able to radio for an ambulance to respond and start rendering first aid. Additionally, if this were a homeless person, the officer would have checked to make sure the person was okay and to see if they needed anything. There are hotels in nearby cities that will give homeless individuals a free night stay. The officer could have helped to facilitate this. If the person did not want or need anything, the person would have been permitted to stay where they were."
The sculpture, 'Homeless Jesus', is a popular piece designed by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz to signify Christ's affinity and love for the lowly and disenfranchised.
“[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighborhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need,” Martin added to the Cleveland Scene.
“Perhaps the statue will inspire those who see it to take action and help… Seeing Jesus depicted this way reminds us that Jesus identified with the outcast and marginalized in his own day. He spent much of his time with tax collectors and prostitutes, largely to the chagrin of polite society.”