Baby Jesus away from the manger in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Police in South Florida are investigating a possible hate crime after a “baby Jesus” was stolen from a Nativity scene and other figurines were rearranged to make it look like one of the Three Wise Men was worshipping a sheep.

After months of controversy over whether or not to even erect a depiction of the birth of Christ, the Cascades community in Port St. Lucie, Fla., finally posted a small display last Monday in its clubhouse, only to have someone abscond with a three-inch porcelain figurine of Jesus lying in a manger.

“It’s unbelievably ugly,” Gregory Siracusa told the Stuart News. “It was a hate crime. That’s about the only way I can say it.”

Police spokesman Rob Vega agrees that a hate-crime charge could be filed, should a suspect be caught.

A holy war of sorts was ignited at the Cascades this year when the homeowners board initially refused to OK the Nativity next to a Christmas tree and menorah. Upon reversing itself, some residents posted the seasonal depiction of Jesus, only to exacerbate the uproar in the community.

The dispute reportedly became so heated, the president of the homeowners board quit his position after board members accused him of “railroading” them into granting permission for the Nativity.

Resident Elsa Thater, a supporter of the scene, was in the clubhouse Thursday night showing her friends the display when she noticed the missing infant and the sheep had become the object of adoration.

“It’s just so ridiculous,” she told the News.

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