For a couple of years now, there have been statues of “Homeless Jesus” going up around the world. They depict Jesus as a homeless man, sleeping on a bench, and the artist’s goal is to challenge people to be more compassionate. Do they try and help the man or do they run away from it?
A few days ago, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio said they would be temporary hosts for one of these statues:
If the goal was to make people more compassionate, though, that may have backfired. Because 20 minutes (!) after the statue was put in place, someone called the cops.
Fr. Alex Martin, the St. Barnabas pastor, tweeted that he had a conversation with a Bay Village police officer because someone reported a homeless person sleeping on a park bench. (St. Barnabas abuts a public park, Fr. Martin told Scene, and the statue was displayed in a high-visibility area intentionally.)
Martin said he hoped that the sculpture would make those in the Bay Village community — Northeast Ohio’s 18th-wealthiest suburb by median home income — and those outside it “a bit kinder and gentler with one another.” St. Barnabas, for its part, is using the opportunity to raise money for those experiencing hardships.
If it matters, whoever called the cops said it may have been a statue, but they weren’t sure.
Still, it’s indicative of our society that someone in a wealthy suburb saw (or thought they saw) a homeless man on a park bench and reacted by calling police, an act that could have made the situation even worse had it been an actual person on the bench. This story has an amusing ending but, in another time or place, that wouldn’t be guaranteed.
At least the statue worked: It’s getting people in the community talking about homelessness and, hopefully, how to prevent it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)