The Church of Iceland's ad inviting people to Sunday School has sparked outrage as it featured a bearded Jesus Christ with breasts, a woman's makeup and attire. It also shows Jesus dancing under a rainbow.
The 'woke' ad appeared on the National Church's Facebook page on September 11 and was deleted from the page but remained on videos displayed on buses in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik for another two weeks. The 'woke' church, however, insisted that the marketing campaign is designed to encourage youngsters to Sunday school.
'Each person interprets something in this picture. Some people interpret it as a trans Jesus, others as a woman. Some see Mary with a beard, and others see a genderqueer person," said Grafarvogskirkja church minister Guorun Karls- og Helgudottir, defending the theme behind the it.
Apologizes and deletes ad
Apologizing for the ad, the Church of Iceland said: "The 2020 Assembly of the National Church regrets that the picture of Jesus in a Sunday school advertisement has hurt people. The goal was to emphasise diversity, not to hurt people or shock them."
Petur Georg Markan, media representative for the Church of Iceland, explained further said that the ad is meant to be positive for Jesus Christ to appear in different forms and conveys divine diversity.
"In this one, we see a Jesus who has breasts and a beard. We're trying to embrace society as it is. We have all sorts of people and we need to train ourselves to talk about Jesus as being 'all sorts' in this context. Especially because it's really important that each and every person see themselves in Jesus and that we don't stagnate too much. That's the essential message. So this is okay. It's okay that Jesus has a beard and breasts."
On backlash that the ad generated online, Markan said, "We know that not everyone agrees Christ should appear this way, and we do of course respect that. Soon, we'll be introducing more personifications where, for example, you'll see Jesus making a contribution to environmental issues." He said the same artist who worked on the ISK 2 million (Â£11,335) budget 'woke' ad will begin work on a new campaign to spread environmental awareness.
Social media outrage
Many netizens slammed the ad on social media. One Facebook user said he left the National Church and joined another Christian congregation, while another deplored the bishop for the ad. "There was a reason I left the National Church and found another Christian congregation," said the Facebook user. "The church should be ashamed for humiliating Jesus like this," wrote another.