Image of a shocked Virgin Mary gasping while she examines a pregnancy testing kit displayed on a Church billboard has infuriated onlookers in New Zealand causing an outrage.
The large poster outside St Matthew's in the City, a prominent Anglican church in Auckland, was designed by an advertising agency and depicts Mary in the style of a classical Renaissance painting.
AdvertisementA caption competition on the church's website has already drawn some questionable responses.
Suggestions include "Yay! I hope it's a girl," "Now, which way to the abortion clinic?" and "If I say I'm a virgin, mum and dad won't kill me."
There have a number of objections as to why the religious figure was the subject for the ad campaign.
"You have crossed the line! Mary should not be the object of a trite campaign, whatever your good or not so good intentions," the Telegraph quoted one contributor as saying.
The church is no stranger to controversy.
A billboard the church posted on Christmas two years ago showed Mary and Joseph in bed, apparently naked after having sex, with the caption: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."
It provoked such fury that it had to be taken down after being attacked several times.
The vicar, Rev Glynn Cardy defended the imagery on the poster saying that it wanted bring out the issues relating to pregnancy.
"Although the make-believe of Christmas is enjoyable, with tinsel, Santa, reindeer and carols, there are also some realities," Cardy said.
"It's about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child.
"It's about real anxiety, courage and hope.
"Mary was unmarried, young and poor.
"She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last," he added.
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