Controversial homeless Jesus statue coming to Orlando



ORLANDO, Fla. - A downtown Orlando church is putting a message about Jesus and homelessness out on the sidewalk for everyone to see.

The realistic statue depicts a homeless Jesus sleeping on a park bench.

"When people walk by, it looks like a park bench," the Rev. David Swanson said. "For them to recognize the scars on Jesus' feet, that's going to take them aback initially."

A life-size version of the statue will be placed across the street from the county building in front of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, in clear view of the many homeless who walk by and people headed to the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.

"We've done a marvelous job as a city at building a bunch of venues that are wonderful contributions, but what is that doing? It's serving ourselves. We've done things that are going to entertain us. But what have we done to take care of the less fortunate among us?" Swanson said.

Swanson hopes that during a closer look, people will see the meaning behind the statue.

"I think it will make them think long and hard about the less fortunate among us and their inherent dignity and worth," he said.
Swanson is on the board of the Commission on Homelessness, which is leading a charge to get the homeless into houses.

Members of First Presbyterian Church donated the $40,000 to bring the sculpture to Orlando.

Swanson believes the art will in turn generate far more than that for people in need.

As for those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of Jesus on a bench, Swanson believes it is an appropriate reminder.

"He entered into our human pain and suffering. He entered into the mess of humanity to redeem it by his death and resurrection," Swanson said.