Rogue Catholic Group Vandalizes Anglican Church Billboard

St. Matthew-in-the-City church in Auckland, New Zealand is notorious for their fantastic billboard campaigns and their most recent one was right up there in terms of controversy:

Not a bad visual, right? Some might say it defeats the notion of a virgin birth, but the church says the ad puts the focus on a “real baby and a real mum.” I’ll give them credit for getting a good discussion going.

Unfortunately, the billboard didn’t last very long… it was vandalized on Saturday by another Christian group.

The billboard… was slashed by scissor-wielding Catholic Action Group member Arthur Skinner yesterday, who led today’s service outside the St Matthew-in-the-City Anglican church, which was responsible for the image.

He said he would destroy the billboard again if it was replaced.

“This is Satanic, this is the ultimate Satanic attack, when Lucifer attacks his worst enemy, the Blessed Virgin.

“This particular church — so called — is run by a gay, feminist-type lobby. They claim to be Christian and yet they put up a blasphemous image of the Blessed Virgin, attacking her virginity and the fact that she was the mother of Christ, the God-Man.”

… and I think that statement tells us everything we need to know about Skinner’s sanity. (Though his beliefs are really no different from most other Christians who also believe in the Devil and a Virgin birth.)

You would think, though, for a man who claims to love Jesus so much, it wouldn’t make sense for him to rip off the one part of the poster that symbolizes his birth.

At least the backlash has been swift. Even the Catholic Church distanced itself from Skinner’s group:

Catholic Church spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer told the Herald on Sunday the Catholic Action Group had “absolutely nothing” to do with the mainstream Catholic Church.

“I have been critical of the poster, but the last thing we would want to do would be anything destructive,” she said.

I don’t know how the Catholic Church gets away with calling another group destructive (pot, meet kettle), but I share their sentiment on this one. Criticize the ad all you want, but there’s no reason to resort to vandalism.

(via One Furious Llama)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://onefuriousllama.com/ onefuriousllama

    Nicely put Mr. Mehta :)

  • Eskomo

    I would expect a women that is  a virgin would be surprised upon learning that she is pregnant.  I don’t see the blasphemy.  But then, I don’t see blasphemy in many things.

    • Anonymous

      Blasphemy is a victimless “crime”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

      I guess you could look at it in terms of: If she’s really a virgin, why is she taking a pregnancy test?
      But then, if you’re gonna take it that literally, why would she have such a test thousands of years before it was invented?

      • TheBlackCat

        I guess you have never heard of a menstrual cycle.

      • Anonymous

        She may not have screwed Joseph, but she spent some time in a hot tub with him.  They got into some heavy petting and Joseph, being the young guy that he was, launched a flotilla of sperm into the water.  Mary, having only abstinence education, believes this is the way babies are made.

        • Charles Black

          Isn’t Jesus the illegitimate son of a Roman Soldier who raped his mother?

          • http://evolutionguide.blogspot.com/ William Bell

            *Monty Python Reference “Life of Brian”* 

    • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ KathyO

      I’m not really up on my new testament, but wasn’t Mary informed by some angels that she was carrying God’s baby/God/Holy spirit?  Maybe the blasphemy is that she didn’t just take their word for it, but checked it out for herself.  Damn you science!

  • random_bats

    Just a beautiful……….. ‘a win win situation’!

    Firstly the church trying to modernise using poster
    propaganda, then the religious brigade starting to in fight!
    And the best bit…the atheists just sat on the side lines with an amusing smile!! :)

    • Anonymous

      And popcorn, can’t forget the popcorn.

  • Anonymous

    I’m confused.  If he’s confessed that he did the vandalism then why hasn’t he been arrested?

    • Aaron Scoggin

      I am also wondering this.. Is there any reason he’s not behind bars for vandalism? If so, I’d love to hear it.

      • Anonymous

        Did the church own the billboard or were they renting the space?  Wouldn’t the billboard company be the one to press charges?  Who’s liable for vandalism?

        • Erp

          The church owns the billboard and use it only for their own posters.   I wonder if Mr. Skinner was around for the one two years ago or the various ones supportive of gays and lesbians.

  • Erp

    Apparently the church is refusing to press charges probably because they don’t want to make a martyr of him.

    • TheBlackCat

      It could also be because they don’t want to fight someone on the same “side”.  Something like “we disagree with him but his heart was in the right place”.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    It probably would be wise to assume that this is not the limit to what Mr. Skinner is capable.  The Anglican church should not be intimidated, and they should continue their billboard campaign just as before, but be prepared for much more destructive or even dangerous attacks from him.

    As far as the mainstream Catholic church disavowing him, I don’t think he’s impressed. Since he dismissed that Anglican church for among other things, being “led by a gay, feminist-type lobby,” then he won’t care about any reproof coming  from Catholic Church spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer.  He might not behave even if Big Benny himself comes down there and personally kicks him in the ass. Not much chance of that happening anyway, given Benny’s tolerance for criminals in his clergy.

    • Thomas Farrell

      “The Anglican church should not be intimidated, and they should continue
      their billboard campaign just as before, but be prepared for much more
      destructive or even dangerous attacks from him.”

      No, they should have him put in jail, because he not only committed a crime and admitted to it, but made plain that he intends to commit more crimes. This is why we have police and jails and governments, to put a stop to this shit.

  • TheBlackCat

    ” They claim to be Christian and yet they put up a blasphemous image of the Blessed Virgin, attacking her virginity”I take it this guy doesn’t even understand how pregnancy tests work.  He somehow seems to have gotten the bizarre idea they test for virginity.    They don’t, they test for hormone related to pregnancy.  Whether she was a virgin or not  makes no difference, her body would still need the hormonal changes needed to support a fetus, so a pregnancy test would still be needed.  So this guy seems to be offended not by the poster itself so much as his own ignorance.

    • TheBlackCat

      I am not doing very well with my writing today.  That should be “so a pregnancy test would still be effective”.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe magic pregnancies work differently? Considering that all the bad sides of a pregnancy are a result of God’s curse on womankind after the fall, maybe this includes hormone changes. Jesus, whose mission it was to accept mankind’s apology in his own strange way, might have been born through the first non-cursed pregnancy since Eden!

        And now that we’re forgiven, pregnancies are no longer painful.

        Wait…

        Well, if I wasn’t already an atheist, I would be now. Why is that curse still active if we’re forgiven?

        • http://conuly.livejournal.com/ Uly

          Because women suck. Duh.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        You can edit your post.

  • Anonymous

    Arthur Skinner has hairy brass balls, I give him that.  Most vandals
    are cowards that destroy anonymously.  But he’s still a coward for his
    destructiveness in the face of people he disagrees with.  “Martyr” or not, he really needs to be punished for his crime, and he should be evaluated psychologically to get some assurance that he’s not going to go even further and possibly harm people, because obviously law and possible punishment aren’t a deterrence.

  • Charles Black

    I personally couldn’t care less when infighting such as this occurs among religious people. It’s actually a good thing for us as they’re too busy bickering with each other to notice us.

  • Josh

    The Catholic Church lets women speak for them now? Isn’t that a biblical no-no?

    • http://conuly.livejournal.com/ Uly

      Pretty sure Catholics don’t depend that heavily on the Bible, which is why some Protestants don’t like them.

    • Erp

      The Catholic church has been fine for some time with women speaking as long as they toe the party line; it is women (and most men) having a voice  in church decisions that they have problems with.

  • SphericalBunny

    I liked the original poster, but is it just me who finds the vandalized version hilarious? What could she be holding/touching with that expression on her face? Answers on a shopped jpg please…:)

  • Liz Heywood

    I love when Christians eat their own…

  • Mary

    Why did God need Mary anyway to create Jesus? I mean, he supposedly made Adam and Eve from scratch. Why did God have to use Mary’s womb?


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