Church billboard showing shocked Virgin Mary with pregnancy test sparks outrage
THE church commissioned caption competition, showing a shocked Virgin Mary gasping as she examines a pregnancy testing kit, has already drawn some questionable responses.
The large poster outside St Matthew's in the City, a prominent Anglican church in Auckland, was designed by an advertising agency and depicts Mary in the style of a classical Renaissance painting.
A caption competition on the church's website has already drawn some questionable responses.
Suggestions include "Yay! I hope it's a girl," "Now, which way to the abortion clinic?" and "If I say I'm a virgin, mum and dad won't kill me."
One contributor protests: "You have crossed the line! Mary should not be the object of a trite campaign, whatever your good or not so good intentions."
Another condemns the billboard: "Can it be more offensive?"
St Matthew's, on a busy corner site in the centre of New Zealand's biggest city, is no stranger to controversy.
A billboard the church posted at Christmas two years ago showed Mary and Joseph in bed, apparently naked after having sex, with the caption: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."
It provoked such fury that it had to be taken down after being attacked several times.
Defending the latest poster, the vicar, the Rev Glynn Cardy, said: "Although the make-believe of Christmas is enjoyable, with tinsel, Santa, reindeer and carols, there are also some realities.
"It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child.
"It’s about real anxiety, courage and hope.
"Mary was unmarried, young and poor," he said.
"She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last."
Lyndsay Freer, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Auckland, was unimpressed.
"Once again, St Matthew's shows us that they have moved away from traditional Christianity, even though their hearts might be in the right place," she said.
"It is true that Christmas is real and celebrates a real pregnancy.
"It is also true that the anxiety and needs of young solo mothers today need to be addressed with compassion and care.
"But in making this point, St Matthew's ignores the gospel account of matters surrounding the pregnancy and birth of Jesus, in which Mary is not a shocked solo mother but a young woman who has given her assent and trust to God."