19 Dec 2009

Church removes billboard after knife attack on it

1:00 pm on 19 December 2009

An Auckland Anglican church has permanently taken down a controversial billboard following a third attack on it.

The hoarding outside St Matthew in the City showed Mary and Joseph in bed with a caption reading "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow".

The church says that on Friday night the police arrested a woman who was using a knife to slash it.

The church's vicar, Glynn Cardy, who is also the Archdeacon of Auckland, says that he has now had the billboard taken down to ensure the safety of the public and parishioners. "When knives are starting to be used, I've only really got one option," he says.

Designed to challenge stereotypes

The billboard attracted international media attention after two other acts of vandalism this week. First it was painted over and then the vinyl image itself was stolen and had to be replaced.

Mr Cardy says it was designed to challenge stereotypes, such as the traditional depiction of God as male, and to get people talking about the Christmas story.

He says he is disappointed at the level of "Christian religious fanaticism" displayed in regard to the sign.