Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Church billboard in increasingly secular New Zealand causes controversy

From The Washington Post-

The Christmas season in sun-kissed New Zealand is normally a chilled-out, festive time more likely to involve beaches and barbecues than robust debates on the story of Jesus's birth.

But this year, many here are caught up in the latter (on the beach and around the barbecue, of course), because of a billboard outside St. Matthew-in-the-City, a towering neo-gothic Anglican church on a bustling street in downtown Auckland.

The poster features Mary and Joseph in bed and apparently naked under the sheets. Joseph looks dejected, while Mary gazes sadly toward the heavens.

The caption reads: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."

The church insists that the billboard is an attempt to spark a discussion about faith in an increasingly secular nation. Some say it has at least prompted a laugh or two.

"I think it's brilliant," Lesley Underwood, 60, a customer service representative, said in an interview next to the defaced billboard. She called it "humorous" and "very much a conversation piece in the city."

Many others disagree, saying it is jarring -- if not deeply offensive.

More here-


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