St Matthew in the City, the progressive Anglican church in Auckland, New Zealand, has hit the headlines again with “Mary Is In The Pink”, a controversial Christmas billboard. The billboard portrays Mary, Jesus’ mother, looking at a home pregnancy test kit revealing that she is pregnant. No words. The billboard, which was meant to be up until Christmas Day, has been vandalized by a Catholic protester, who removed the pregnancy test because he believed it was blasphemous.
Glynn Cardy and Clay Nelson, priests at St Matthew in the City, issued the following statement about the billboard:
“Regardless of any premonition, that discovery would have been shocking. Mary was unmarried, young, and poor. This pregnancy would shape her future. She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last. It’s real. Christmas is real. It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It’s about real anxiety, courage and hope. As in the past it is our intention to avoid the sentimental, trite and expected to spark thought and conversation in the community. This year we hope to do so with an image and no words. We invite you to wonder what your caption might be. Although the make-believe of Christmas is enjoyable – with tinsel, Santa, reindeer, and carols – there are also some realities. Many in our society are suffering: some through the lack of money, some through poor health, some through violence, and some through other hardships. The joy of Christmas is muted by anxiety. In this season we encourage one another to be generous to those who suffer, to give to strangers, and to care for all – especially those who have the least. Like the first Santa, St Nicholas did. We invite all who celebrate the season to hold these different strands of a real Christmas together: anxiety and joy, suffering and compassion, Santa and Jesus.”
The Mary is in the Pink billboard was developed at Whybin\TBWA\Tequila, Auckland, by executive creative director Andy Blood, creatives Cece Chu and Ryan Price, post producer Michelle Hong and was illustrated by Elena Panaita.