"Last evening we revealed our #EveryFamilyIsHoly campaign, created to bring awareness to the humanitarian atrocities from our nation's "zero tolerance" immigration policies on the border and here in Indianapolis", he wrote in a statement.
Rev Lee Curtis, who came up with the idea for the demonstration, said the Biblical family were refugees seeking asylum after Jesus' birth.
"I think our faith tells us where we need to be".
Religious leaders have condemned the administration for separating migrant parents from their children at the border and otherwise insisting on "zero tolerance".
Carlsen said the church puts out a crèche - the Nativity scene that often includes the Holy family, shepherds, the star of Bethlehem and angels - every year around Christmas as a "symbol of a homeless family with nowhere to go and where Christ was born".
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"A number of our congregants at the cathedral are first or second-generation immigrants and this situation is not abstract to them and this is not abstract for us", he said.
"We must not be divided by race, language or culture, but reach out to care for our neighbours-because every family is sacred".
Asked by WRTV reporters Tuesday how long the church intends to keep the display on its front lawn, Carlsen responded with a question of his own.
"We want an end for family detention".
The new policy of the Trump administration is not to separate families, but to detain them in immigration facilities, according to a Department of Justice announcement.
It is part of the Christ Church Cathedral's #EveryFamilyIsHoly campaign. Having taken other progressive stands - they joined March For Our Lives, marry same-sex couples, work with immigrant advocates - and with many immigrants in their congregation, "This is an easy one for us", says Carlsen. "I would love for it to be outdated and be taken down".