UK Ad Campaign’s Ultrasound Image of Christ in Womb Gains Global Interest, Even As Ad Makers Deny Pro-life Message
(CNSNews.com) – The creators of the 2010 “Christmas Starts With Christ” campaign say that its purpose is to bring attention to the true meaning of the holiday season by putting the message of Christ’s birth in a modern context.
But the image of an “ultrasound” Christ in his mother’s womb with a halo around his head showcases the fact that Jesus Christ was once an unborn child in need of protection to ensure his birth and ultimate mission in his life on earth.
The ultrasound image that is planned for thousands of billboards and other advertising venues in the UK and in other countries around the globe states “He’s on His Way. Christmas Starts With Christ.”
“This is a powerful image with eight words that manages to communicate the unique combination of humanity and divinity that Jesus represents,” Francis Goodwin, chairman of ChurchAds.net, told CNSNews.com by e-mail from her office in the UK. “This is a celebration of his birth, hence the timing.”
But Goodwin said there is no “pro-life agenda” in the campaign, which is set to run from Dec. 7 to Dec. 20.
“We are obviously aware that others might seek to hi-jack the image for their own purposes, but those purposes are not ours,” Goodwin said. “Our objectives are clear and simple and follow on from a 19-year track record of producing Christian advertising.”
This year’s campaign is the second of a five-year plan to retell the birth of Christ in a modern context and to remind people that Christmas is for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
In 2009, the campaign, on posters and radio, was supported by more than 700 churches and reached 20 million people, according to the churchads.net Web site. The theme of that campaign was the nativity scene taking place in a city bus stop shelter.
But the ultrasound image is one that has become an icon for the pro-life movement, as pro-life advocates are using ultrasound technology to educate people about a child’s development in the womb, including the human characteristics that are present in the early weeks of pregnancy.
“One of our main activities is to fight for the personhood of the unborn,” Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League, told CNSNews.com. “The [ad campaign] image clearly demonstrates the person of Christ in the womb.”
Sedlak said that if it is not a pro-life message, the “Christmas Starts With Christ” campaign is certainly a civil rights message because Christ was given the right to develop and be born, unlike the more than 40 million pre-born children that have been aborted in the United States alone since abortion was made legal by the Supreme Court in 1973.
“Christ had both his human and his divine nature there in the womb,” Sedlak said, adding that he thinks the ad campaign is a good idea. “We would be totally supportive of this message and what they are trying to do.”
When Church Ads first announced the campaign in June, The Guardian newspaper reported that the image was similar to the imagery used by the pro-life lobby.
In the June 9, 2010 article, the National Secular Society (NSS) was critical of the campaign.
“It is an incredible piece of naivety on their part,” Terry Sanderson, director of the NSS, is quoted as saying in the article. “If they are hoping to stop the secular drift away from Christmas as a Christian festival, they risk doing the opposite.
“It gives the impression that it was politically motivated, that they are trying to put across some sort of subliminal message,” Sanderson said. “The image is too specifically associated with pro-lifers to be seen in a benign context.
“They should go back to angels and cribs,” Sanderson said.
Goodwin said the goal of the campaign is to have 2,000 billboards in the UK alone. She said, to date, churches in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Jamaica, New Zealand, Holland, Poland, South Africa, Australia, Germany and Russia have expressed interest in joining the campaign.
Goodwin said Church Ads also is distributing 40,000 window posters for the campaign and has produced radio ads, an airport announcement, and “Joseph’s Answerphone,” all of which can be previewed on their Web site.
“We are an ecumenical charity, and our executive team comprises senior communications officers from the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and URC churches; from the Catholic newspaper The Universe, and from the Church Army and Evangelical Alliance; together with Christians working in secular media and advertising organizations,” the Web site states about the Church Ad organization.