New Zealand Ad: Pope Blesses Gay Couple

In the New Zealand Herald:

A billboard depicting Pope Benedict XVI blessing the marriage of a male couple is unlikely to cause widespread offence, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.

The authority dismissed complaints against the Powershop billboard by four complainants.

The four-and-a-half storey billboard was part of a campaign by Powershop, with the slogan “Same Power, Different Attitude”.

The signs were put up last month in central Auckland and Wellington.

One complainant, B Pender, said the billboard offended him as a Christian.

“It is attempting to imply that the Catholic Church and The Vatican condone same sex marriage despite no formal communication of said claim.”

Other complaints to the authority mirrored that view and said the advertisement mocked the Catholic religion.

The authority’s chairman Jenny Robson said the advertisement was referring to the issue of the same-sex marriage bill that was before Parliament and was legislation the Catholic Church opposed.

The electricity company used irony and humour, in keeping with Powershop’s same power, different attitude campaign, she said.

Ms Robson said she acknowledged the offence caused to the complainants, but the billboard did not reach the threshold to be said to cause widespread offence in light of prevailing community standards.

“Neither did it breach the due sense of responsibility to consumers and society.”

Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent welcomed today’s decision.

“It kind of reflects the feedback that we’ve got from the general public – yes, there was some vocal opposition but, by in large, people saw it for what it was and didn’t find it particularly offensive.”

Yes, inoffensive only to the godless…



Blasphemous Anglican Billboard Slashed

Remember this  controversial advertising campaign depicting a shocked Mary holding a positive pregnancy test? Well, protesters have managed to rip it:

A couple of hundred protesters are outside an Auckland Anglican  church calling for a controversial Christmas billboard to be taken down.

The group, which began gathering at 11am, were praying the Rosary and  said the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding a pregnancy test kit  was an attack on her fecundity.

Catholic Action’s Arthur Skinner, from Whangarei, said they were protesting because the image was blasphemous.

They had a statue of the Blessed Virgin with flowers around it as part of their procession.

Arthur Skinner said the image had nothing to do with scripture.

Yesterday, stunned passers-by watched as a scissors-wielding zealot slashed the billboard and tore off a large chunk.

The grey-haired man appeared to be alone as he attacked the poster  outside the St Matthew-in-the-City church in central Auckland before  driving off.

Skinner later claimed responsibility for the incident. He was believed  to have earlier phoned St Matthew’s vicar Glynn Cardy to say he would  “roast slowly in hell” for erecting the billboard.

“He told me I would burn in the fires of hell, that would be my final destination,” Cardy said.

Catholic Church spokesman Lyndsay Freer said she, too, had received an  unhappy phone call from who she thought was Skinner about the poster.

Read more.

I’ll be glad if it’s gone!



Virgin Mary’s Positive Pregnancy Test

Church launches controversial advert campaign in time for Christmas.

A controversial New Zealand church has rolled out a publicity stunt in time for Christmas – with a billboard showing the Virgin Mary holding a positive pregnancy test.

Auckland’s St Matthews in the City Church launched its festive advertising campaign to ‘avoid the sentimental and trite’ and ‘spark thought and conversation’.

Vicar Glynn Cardy said: ‘It’s real. Christmas is real. It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It’s about real anxiety, courage and hope.

‘This billboard portrays Mary, Jesus’ mother, looking at a home pregnancy test kit revealing that she is pregnant.

‘Regardless of any premonition, that discovery would have been shocking.  Mary was unmarried, young, and poor.

‘This pregnancy would shape her future.  She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last.’

It is not the first time St Matthews has provoked outrage with a promotional campaign.

In 2009, one of its billboards showed Mary and Joseph in bed with the tag line: ‘Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow’…

Read more on this despicable action here.

How irreverent.



You Know Christmas Is Near, When Atheists Put Up Their Billboards

Nearly $40,000 was spent during the last Christmas season on a billboard war between atheists and Roman Catholics at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. But so far, this year’s version of the atheist billboard has failed to generate much of a fight.

The American Atheists’ new orange and black billboard, just to the left of the Lincoln Tunnel entrance on the New Jersey side, depicts four images side by side: a statue of the Roman god Neptune, a classical portrait of Jesus, a rosy-cheeked Santa touching his nose and a guy in a suit and a devil mask.

“37 Million Americans know Myths when they see them,” it says in smallish letters at the top. In large letters at the center, it asks: “What do you see?”

The purpose of the $25,000 billboard, which went up in mid-November, said David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, is to “call out” closet atheists during the holiday season and get them to be truthful about who they really are.

“This is when the closeted atheists go to church to be viewed as Christians, and this is when we want to call them out to stay home and enjoy the holidays,” he said. “We want people to realize that there may be atheists in their family, even if those atheists don’t even know they are atheists.”

Last year, their message to closet atheists was a bit more direct. A huge billboard in the same location depicted silhouettes of the Three Kings on horseback headed to the manger against a starry sky, framed by the words: “You KNOW it’s a Myth.”

It was so direct, in fact, that it inspired an anonymous 80-year-old Austrian man to call up the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, an organization based in New York, to offer to pay for a counter billboard. Hence the Catholic salvo, a billboard depicting the infant Jesus with Mary and Joseph that said: “You Know It’s Real: This Season, Celebrate Jesus.”

This year, the Catholic League is not going to respond, said Bill Donohue, its president. One reason? The atheists’ new billboard isn’t good enough, he said. (And, when they called the anonymous Austrian donor this year, he did not call back.)

Read more.