Church Ad Shows Mary Taking Pregnancy Test
Billboard there to spark conversation, church says
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2011 4:35 AM CST
The billboard is "about trying to make people think about Christmas and to then think compassionately and kindly about people in a similar situation," the church says.   (St Matthew Church)

(Newser) – A church in Auckland, New Zealand, has irked traditionalists with a billboard showing a shocked Virgin Mary looking at a pregnancy test. St. Matthew-in-the-City Church says the portrait was intended to “spark thought and conversation in the community." Christmas is "about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child," the church's vicar says. "Mary was young, unmarried and poor. She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last."

The local Catholic diocese, however, suggests that the Anglicans at St Matthew need to brush up on their Bible. In the gospel account of the birth of Jesus, "Mary is not a shocked solo mother but a young woman who has given her assent and trust to God," a spokeswoman tells the Telegraph. The same church sparked controversy in 2009 with a billboard showing Mary and Joseph in bed with the tagline "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."