Protestant Churches are joining forces in an advertising campaign that shows a scan of “baby Jesus in the Virgin Mary’s womb”, complete with halo.
The poster campaign, which will feature on billboards nationally over Christmas, reads: “He’s on His way. Christmas starts with Christ.”
Created by advertising executives from the Church of England, Methodist, United Reformed and Baptist Churches, the campaign risks plunging Protestant Churches into the abortion debate with its imagery of an unborn child. The baby in the adverts is a composite made up of many baby scans.
The Roman Catholic Church, which opposes abortion, is not represented in ChurchAds.net.
John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, said: “This advertisement sends a powerful message to everyone in Britain where 570 babies are killed every day in the womb, 365 days a year, under the Abortion Act. Whenever we kill an unborn child in an abortion, we are killing Jesus.
“It may seem very early to be talking about Christmas, but we’d like to make this one of the largest church Christmas campaigns ever.”
Posters will not start appearing on bus stops until December 6, but will be available for purchase online. Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society, criticised the image.
“At first glance it looks like a poster for a horror film — perhaps The Omen VI: He’s Coming to Get You,” he said.
“But it is also the kind of image widely used by anti-abortion campaigners and I hope that the Church of England isn’t trying to use its Christmas poster campaign to make a political point. If that’s the intention, we may have questions to ask at the Charity Commission.
“If, on the other hand, it’s supposed to make a Christian Christmas more appealing to our secular nation, I think it is likely to have the opposite effect.”
Francis Goodwin, a founder member of ChurchAds.net, said: “This is the kind of thing proud parents-to-be show their friends and family — passing round the scan of the baby.
“Our poster reflects this new way of announcing the news of a new arrival and places the birth of Christ in an ultra-contemporary context. It offers a fresh perspective on the birth of Christ — creating anticipation and alluding to both His humanity and divinity.”
The Roman Catholic Church had an observer on ChurchAds.net, formerly the Church Advertising Network, but withdrew in 1996 in protest at a campaign that showed the Virgin Mary having a “bad hair day” when she discovered that she was pregnant.