Auckland's most provocative church is at it again with a billboard showing Jesus' mother Mary staring at a positive pregnancy test.
St Matthew's, also responsible for the well-known Gay-Dar billboard and another suggesting God was good in bed, has placed the new version outside its central city church in a move, it says, is designed to highlight the fact that Christmas is a tough time for many people.
Erected yesterday, it shows Mary staring at a home pregnancy test which reveals she is pregnant.
In a statement, Vicar Glynn Cardy and priest associate Clay Nelson said Christmas was about "a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It's about real anxiety, courage and hope".
"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."
The church said the billboard was aimed at provoking conversation and have asked people to submit their captions for the image.
Cardy told Auckland Now it was about highlighting the fact that Christmas was a tough time for many people who suffered through a lack of money, poor health or violence.
"The point is really to get the season focussed on Jesus and on the reality of his birth and some of the anxieties that his mother felt and the real situation of people who are in poverty like his family were."
He hoped it inspired people to be more generous.
The church had not received any negative feedback so far and he expected it would remain that way.
"I don't see it as particularly controversial," he said.
"It's just a way of communicating those things."
Cardy said the church's sometimes-controversial billboard campaign served a purpose.
"I think anything that provokes discussion about what the meaning of the Christian faith is, I mean that's our goal, is to provoke people to think about meaning."
Earlier this year the church caused an uproar when it erected a "Gay-Dar" billboard which challenged the Anglican Church to stop discriminating against gays and lesbians.
In 2009, its billboard showed Mary lying in bed next to Jesus with a caption which read "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow".
It also put up a billboard in April challenging the perception that all Christians were the same, following a complaint by the Anglican Church over a Hell Pizza ad.
- © Fairfax NZ News