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'Jesus was gay'! Church sparks outrage with claim son of God 'should come out'Reverend claims controversial billboard is mean to 'lift' humanity of Jesus
13:12 GMT, 17 December 2012
It is the season of glad tidings and forgiveness.
But many Christians living in Auckland, New Zealand, are struggling to find goodwill in their hearts for the latest in a series of controversial billboards coming out from the Church of St Matthew in the City.
'It's Christmas. Time for Jesus to come out', the sign proclaims, with an image of baby Jesus as a toddler in a manger, surrounded by a rainbow halo.
The billboard was put up by the Reverend Glynn Cardy, who said it was meant to 'lift' the humanity of Jesus.
But it is likely to face the same fate as last year's controversial poster – torn down by angry locals.
Controversial: St Matthew in the City's billboard questions if Jesus was gay – while a more traditional poster announces the Christmas Day services
Raising eyebrows: The poster is getting attention – and criticism – from those who see it
The Rev's message, while presented in a controversial manner, is to ask if it would change anything for the
faithful if Jesus had been gay.
He points out that there is no indication about Jesus's sexuality: 'The fact is we don't know what his sexual orientation was.'
This isn't the first time the church
erected a controversial billboard. Last year the church erected one
showing the Virgin Mary looking shocked at the results of a pregnancy
However it did not last long, after an angry protestor tore it down.
But Cardy did not mind, especially as the image had already gone viral, seen by millions of people.
He said: 'In the internet age though the image will be out there forever. They can do what they want to it.'
On this year's billboard, Rev Cardy said that, as homosexuality was not a word until the
1800s, any mention of it in the Bible or other documents would have mistranslations.
Fellow Reverend Clay
Nelson said the billboard tries to humanise Jesus by getting people to think about the challenges he would have had growing up.
He added: 'Some
scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay.
'But it is all conjecture. Maybe gay, maybe not. Does it
'There is almost nothing in
the record of his teachings about sexuality while there is plenty about
the perils of being rich. Certainly he always supported the marginalised
Flashback: Last year's poster – of Mary with a pregnancy test – was destroyed by an angry neighbour
Criticism: The protestor ended up ripping the poster down in anger
It is not the first time billboards have caused an outrage.
In the UK, the gay lobby group Stonewall's bus poster campaign stating 'Some people are gay. Get over it' has raised debates over how far advertising should push a viewpoint.
It has led to some controversy, including one Christian bus driver from Rotherham who left a bus-full of angry passengers waiting as he would not drive a bus with the banner on the side.
Earlier this year, London Mayor Boris Johnson blocked a Christian group from running a 'Not gay and proud: Get over it' campaign on London buses.
The sign, like the one pictured here, was a billboard for gay lobby group Stonewall. Passengers spent 20 minutes stranded on the bus because the driver refused to board