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Virgin Mary 'pregnant' ad creates controversy

Protesters demand for a poster showing Virgin Mary with a pregnancy test in New Zealand to be taken down calling it 'blasphemy'

Her hand covers her mouth and there's a stunned, scared look in her eyes. The pregnancy test is positive.

No, it's not a teen actor in an after school special, it's the Virgin Mary in the latest Christmas billboard from
St Matthew-in-the-City, an Anglican church in Auckland, New Zealand, that's no stranger to controversy.


Stirring the pot? Archdeacon Glynn Cardy of St Matthew-in-the-City
church explained the poster was an effort to avoid the sentimental trite
spark thought in the society


Spark conversation
In a statement on the church's website, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy explained that the billboard, "Mary is in the Pink," is intended "to avoid the sentimental, trite and expected to spark thought and conversation in the community."

Part of the statement read, "Christmas is real.  It's about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child.  It's about real anxiety, courage and hope."

"Many in our society are suffering: some through the lack of money, some through poor health, some through violence, and some through other hardships. The joy of Christmas is muted by anxiety."

This time, the church has invited people to come up with their own captions for Mary and her pregnancy test.

Fired up
However, people are angry at the poster and a scissor-wielding protester destroyed it.

Arthur Skinner, a member of an organisation calling itself the Catholic Action Group, who described the Renaissance-style picture as "satanic", was photographed attacking it.

"Yes, it is vandalism," Skinner proclaimed proudly outside the church.

"I'm guilty. If they want to arrest me, be my guest. If it comes to that, I believe in being persecuted for my faith."

He told the crowd of worshippers: "We are traditional Catholics. We don't look for trouble, but watch out if you start this sort of thing."

Skinner added those responsible for the poster, which was created by an advertising agency, would "certainly burn in hell" if they did not repent.

Many of the people who knelt on a wet pavement under umbrellas to pray condemned the poster as blasphemous.

The Rev Glynn Cardy, said, "I'm disappointed that there is not more tolerance of different views. They obviously feel strongly about it."

In the past
In 2009 the church put up a billboard showing Mary and Joseph naked in bed after sex. "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow," read the caption. The church was forced to remove the billboard after attacks.

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