A ghoulish Baby Jesus and Wise Men as Walkers?
For Jasen Dixon, it’s all just a matter of “freedom of expression.” Be that as it may, his preferred representation of the birth of Jesus — a “Zombie Nativity” meant for his front yard — has caused a stir far beyond his home in the suburbs of Cincinnati.
Billed as the “World’s First Zombie Nativity Scene” (and hashtagged #zombielivesmatter), Dixon’s display depicts Joseph and Mary as zombies, their faces bloody and deformed. The baby Jesus, serenaded by a “spooky” version of “Silent Night,” seems a hybrid mix, both zombie and spike-toothed space-alien. Three zombie Wise Men complete the macabre image; one of them bears not myrrh, frankincense or gold but a severed head, presumably because zombies are reputed to eat brains.
Dixon, while insisting that his intentions are purely artistic and not sinister, admits his father hates the idea.
“I talked about this for a long time,” Dixon told the local Fox news affiliate, and his zombie-themed nativity made its first appearance in 2014 as a “publicity stunt for my haunted house, ’13 Rooms of Doom.'”
The scene, which Dixon himself calls “goofy,” has received worldwide attention. In response to negative reaction on social media, and flyers left by local Christians warning, “God frowns upon this manger scene,” the Dixon household has made a point of noting “we are not atheist,” even as they seek donations to “improve” and add to the setting. So far he has raised nearly $3,000 of his $5,000 goal, of which he says half will go to an as-yet-unnamed “nonprofit organization.”
This year, Sycamore Township Municipal authorities issued a citation against the nativity scene, identifying it as an “accessory structure” in violation of local violating zoning regulations. By removing the roof of his “stable” the next day, Dixon brought the display into compliance — and avoided fines of up to $500 a day — but the citation does require a court appearance on December 22, so the legal story is not over.
Meanwhile, online reactions to the zombie nativity range from mild amusement to outrage, with many suggesting that of all the world religions only Christianity, with its message of forbearance and forgiveness, is consistently subjected to outlandish, often offensive representations in the name of so-called “art.”