Six months ago, the non-profit organisation ChurchAds.net chose the “Ultrasound Jesus” design for its Christmas ad campaign. The depiction of an ultrasound image of an unborn baby with a halo above his head and the caption, “He’s on His way. Christmas starts with Christ” was met with anger by pro-abortion and atheist groups who disapproved of its pro-life sentiments.
It was deemed too political and seen as a counter-attack on TV ads for abortion services. Speaking to the Guardian, Terry Sanderson, director of the National Secular Society, accused ChurchAds.net of “trying to put across some sort of subliminal message”. He thought the image “too specifically associated with pro-lifers to be seen in a benign context” and added, “they should go back to angels and cribs”. (There is more than a touch of irony in the NSS requesting angels and cribs.)
On their website, the authors of the Christmas ad campaign state:
“Research has revealed that 85 per cent of people agree with the statement that ‘Christmas should be called Christmas because we are still a Christian country’. But it also shows that only 12 per cent of adults know the facts of the Christmas story in any detail.
So if we Christians really want to keep Christmas focused on Christ, we must constantly re-tell the story of his birth in ways which engage positively with the public’s interest.
In the 21st century, parents-to-be proudly announce the coming birth by showing friends and family the scan of the baby. Our new Baby Scan Jesus poster uses this convention to place the birth of Christ in an ultra-contemporary context.
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.
There is no doubt that it will capture people’s attention, generate headlines and create countless conversations about the true meaning of Christmas.
Church leaders across the denominations have welcomed the campaign and are urging churches all over the country to get involved.”
John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, welcomed the ad, telling the Guardian:
“The advert is saying that Jesus was alive as a person before he was born. They have a halo round his head and you don’t have a halo around the head of a blob of jelly or a cluster of cells. This is not a cluster of cells but a human person and it just happens to be the God Man Jesus.”
“It is about the humanity of the unborn,” Smeaton added. “That is a very, very powerful statement that will strike a chord with the general population.”
The campaign will begin formally on 6 December 2010, but the distribution of the “Ultrasound Jesus” material began several months ago. Let’s pray for the success of this campaign. And as we approach the season of Advent, we too would do well to contemplate the image.
Let us consider it especially as Saturday 27th November, the eve of the first Sunday of Advent, draws near. For on that day all Catholic parishes and communities throughout the world have been invited to join Pope Benedict in a Vigil of Prayer for Nascent Life. The link is clear: From Mary’s virginal conception by the power of the Holy Spirit of her divine Son Jesus Christ to His holy birth in Bethlehem, we celebrate the most wondrous “pro-life” events. Almighty God, from the moment of the incarnation, became a defenceless and vulnerable human being: as defenceless and vulnerable as the countless million unborn babies who through the horror of abortion are not permitted to see the light of day.
If the Holy Father’s call seems to have fallen on deaf ears in your diocese, parish or community, please speak out. The scourge of abortion can only be fought with the weapon of prayer. As Fr Corapi is wont to say, “Just do it!”.