St. Matthews-in-the-City Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, may be spreading a fair share of holiday drama this season with its controversial Christmas billboard. The church, which has a history of posting provocative signs during the holiday season, has put up a billboard that shows Mary holding a positive pregnancy test (yes, that Mary).
According to 3News, the church hopes that the billboard will "avoid the sentimental [and] trite" and that it will spark thought and lead to conversation. What's so odd about this reasoning is the fact that Christmas is all about tradition. The holiday, regardless of how people choose to celebrate it, is a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of the Christian faith.
The new billboard is devoid of any text, and it was purposefully made that way. “We hope to do so with an image and no words. We invite you to wonder what your caption might be," explains Glynn Cardy, a pastor ("vicar") at the church. Cardy says that the house of worship wanted people to focus on what it's like to be a real mother with a real child (it's not entirely clear how a positive pregnancy test conveys this message -- perhaps the look of surprise on Mary's face?).
The church's 2009 billboard was arguably more offensive, as it featured an image of Mary and Joseph in bed together. The caption under it read, “Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow.”
The most recent billboard was placed outside of the church this week and will remain there until Christmas Day.