Vandalized church billboard remains to mark intolerance

Wellington, New Zealand - A New Zealand church whose controversial Easter billboard was vandalized will leave it as a statement against religious intolerance, its vicar said Monday.

The St Matthew-in-the City church in Auckland erected the billboard, depicting a cartoon drawing of Jesus nailed to the cross, saying, "Well this sucks. I wonder if they'll remember anything I said."

Graffiti, including biblical scripture, was scrawled on the billboard on Saturday morning.

The Reverend Clay Nelson told Radio New Zealand: "We have to work on an alternative, and we'll put it up as soon as we can, but in the mean time we'll let the defacing speak. It speaks to the fact that intolerance in religion is one of the things that kills religion."

The church put up another controversial billboard at Christmas, showing the Virgin Mary and Joseph in bed with the words: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."

That was defaced and attacked with a knife, but formal complaints of indecency were dismissed by the Advertising Standards Authority last week.