Auckland’s St Matthew-in-the-City church has auctioned off a controversial billboard depicting the baby Jesus that suggested he could be gay for $860 – more than double than what it cost to produce it.
The 7 foot by 10 foot billboard depicted Jesus lying in a manger with a rainbow halo and the words ‘It’s Christmas – time for Jesus to come out.’
An M. Voorend referred the billboard to New Zealand’s Advertizing Standards Authority, claiming it constituted anti-Christian hate speech.
However the board found that, ‘speculation about Jesus’ sexual orientation did not reach the threshold to be considered offensive in light of generally prevailing community standards.’
A Wellington bidder snapped up the billboard in an online auction and the church will use the funds to pay for its next two billboards.
Creative agency Einstein’s Hairdresser designs all the church’s billboards for free but it costs around $400 to print and install each of them.
‘We want to recoup some of those costs so we can carry on producing more billboards,’ St Matthew's Reverend Glynn Cardy told New Zealand’s News 3.
St Matthew-in the-City is known for its use of controversial billboards and the board had previously thrown out another complaint against the church about a billboard that depicted Mary and Jesus with a pregnancy test and the slogan: ‘Poor Joseph – God was a hard act to follow.’