by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
An advertising campaign planned for the Christmas holidays by Protestant churches in the UK is being called “politically naïve” because it depicts an ultrasound image of Jesus in the womb of Mary.
According to the Guardian, the project, known as the “Ultrasound Jesus” campaign, is the product of ChurchAds.net, an ecumenical association of Christian churches that includes the Church of England, the Baptist Union, the United Reformed Church and the Methodist churches.
The ad shows a scan of an unborn baby with a halo above its head and the words, “He’s on his way: Christmas starts with Christ.” The image will be posted on billboards during the Christmas season where it will reach as many as 40 million people.
Secularists are outraged by the campaign.
“It is an incredible piece of naivety on their part,” Terry Sanderson, director of the National Secular Society, told the Guardian. “If they are hoping to stop the secular drift away from Christmas as a Christian festival, they risk doing the opposite. It gives the impression that it was politically motivated, that they are trying to put across some sort of subliminal message. The image is too specifically associated with pro-lifers to be seen in a benign context. They should go back to angels and cribs.”
Mike Elms, vice-chair of ChurchAds.net, denied any political motivation for the ad and said its sole purpose was to convey the Christian message of Christmas in a modern, secular context.
“We wanted to convey that Christmas starts with Christ, that this baby was on the way,” Elms said. “ . . . (W)e thought that the scan was a way of conveying that: it is modern currency in announcing a modern birth. We put a halo on it because theologians speak of Jesus being fully human and fully divine.”
Pro-life groups are applauding the idea.
“The advert is saying that Jesus was alive as a person before he was born,” said John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child. “They have a halo round his head and you don’t have a halo around the head of a blob of jelly or a cluster of cells. This is not a cluster of cells but a human person and it just happens to be the God man Jesus. It is about the humanity of the unborn. That is a very, very powerful statement that will strike a chord with the general population.”
The billboards will be posted in early December.
“People are entitled to talk about it,” Elms said, “but when the posters are put up, from the 6 till 20 December, it will be seen in context and its real message will become clear.”
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