Jesus ultrasound poster faces opposition from secularists

A newly revealed poster picturing the ultrasound of an unborn Jesus with a halo is adding fuel to the abortion ad uproar in the United Kingdom.

ChurchAds.Net’s “Baby-Scan Jesus” poster, which will be used for a 2010 Christmas campaign, has already started stirring debate months before the holiday season.

Although the poster’s creators say it is meant to spark conversation about the meaning of Christmas, critics of the poster say it is too political and see it as a counterattack on the recent first-ever TV ad for abortion services.

“It gives the impression that it was politically motivated, that they are trying to put across some sort of subliminal message,” said Terry Sanderson, director of the National Secular Society, according to The Guardian.

“The image is too specifically associated with pro-lifers to be seen in a benign context.”

Sanderson added, “They should go back to angels and cribs.”

The ChurchAds poster message reads: “He’s on His Way: Christmas starts with Christ.” The group explained that the poster idea came from the 21st-century convention that proud parents-to-be show the ultrasound of their baby to family and friends.

“Our new Baby-scan Jesus poster uses this convention to place the birth of Christ in an ultra-contemporary context,” said ChurchAds co-founder Francis Goodwin .

“It is highly impactful. It has a sense of immediacy. It creates anticipation. And theologically it speaks of both the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ.”

Goodwin said that previous campaigns had been taken up and used in other Communion countries around the world, and he hoped that the same thing would happen this year too.

“This image—of a baby in the womb—is one that transcends cultures. There’s no reason this image wouldn’t deliver the same challenging message in Singapore or Kenya. So I’m inviting Anglicans right across the Communion to take this initiative and make it global.”

Commenting on the new poster, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, said: “For many parents pregnancy gets real when you see the image from the ultrasound scan. It tells you something is actually kicking off.

"We've got so used to the tinsel wrapped cosiness of the carefully packaged 21st century consumer-fest Christmas, that its astonishing reality—an actual pregnancy, a God come down to earth—is easily missed.

"But this image demands attention. So does this child. He's on his way.”

The revelation of the poster comes just weeks after Channel 4 began airing the nation’s first-ever TV ad for abortion services. The abortion ad shows women alone and asks “Are you late?” referring to a woman missing her period. It ends with contact information for abortion provider Marie Stopes International.

Channel 4 and the Advertising Standards Authority have collectively received nearly 1,000 complaints about the airing of the Marie Stopes ad.

“The notion that the destruction of human life can be advertised freely on TV as a service to the public is outrageous and we will be doing all we can to stop the advert from being aired,” said Christian Legal Centere director Andrea Minichiello-Williams.

ChurchAds.Net said it is releasing its poster early to allow supporters to help reserve bus shelter and billboard ads and radio commercial spots before they are sold out. The group noted that by October most spots have already been sold out.

The ecumenical network aims to use the poster to reach 40 million people by displaying it on 2010 bus shelter sites and conveying the message through radio commercials aired on 200 stations.

The poster, scheduled to run from December 6 to 20, is backed by the Church of England, Baptist Union, Methodist and United Reformed Churches.