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Tuesday, January 5, 1999 Published at 22:17 GMT


Jesus: No wimp in a nightie

The similarities are clear...

A poster depicting Jesus Christ as a Che Guevara-style revolutionary has been launched by Christians to entice more people into church.

Rev Peter Owen-Jones: "Christ caused a revolution which changed the world"
The Church's Advertising Network says it modelled its poster on the ubiquitous image of the beret-wearing revolutionary to dispell the notion that Jesus is "a wimp in a nightie".

The black and red poster, bearing the slogan "Meek. Mild. As if. Discover the Real Jesus. Church. April 4." will be used to encourage more people to worship this Easter.

The campaign is the latest from CAN, which has caused controversy with previous adverts including Christmas copyrighted and the Three Wise Men having a bad hair day.

[ image: Christ was a revolutionary too, says the Church's Advertising Network]
Christ was a revolutionary too, says the Church's Advertising Network
At Tuesday's launch at the Methodist Central Hall in London, Reverend Tom Ambrose, of CAN, said the poster was designed to make people think about Christianity and ask questions about Jesus.

"We want people to realise that Jesus is not a meek, mild wimp in a white nightie, but a real, passionate and caring person.

"Jesus was a revolutionary figure and more revolutionary than anyone in the 20th century.

"He was not ineffectual and was crucified exactly because he was revolutionary.

"The sentimental imagery of Jesus seems to give the idea that churchgoing is passive. But in reality there is a quiet revolution going on in churches, as last year's march against world debt showed."

Churches across the UK will receive 50,000 leaflets and they will then be able to display large posters on their notice boards.

'Image of revolution'

CAN also hopes the posters will go up at bus shelters, train stations and hoardings.

The Rev Peter Owen-Jones, of CAN and who used to work in advertising, conceded the image on the poster might shock some traditional churchgoers.

"We are not saying that Jesus was a Communist, but that he was a revolutionary. We are exploiting the image of revolution, not the image of Che Guevara," he said.

Tom Horwood, spokesman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said some people might have reservations about the poster campaign.

"For some people any publicity is good and this will probably provoke some kind of debate, which is healthy.

"But others will feel that the poster's association with Che Guevara is not something particularly relevant to Christianity.

"Churches have traditionally advertised themselves locally, but this is something more aggressive."

Jesus not a He-man

Peter Youngman, from the United Christian Broadcasters, insisted Jesus was not a Che Guevara.

"He wasn't just meek and mild, but neither was he a He-man," he said.

"He was a revolutionary, but in the way that he asked difficult questions and was totally unexpected in his reactions.

"To love your enemies and turn the other cheek is far more radical than to go round killing people."

Guevara was an Argentinian Marxist who helped Fidel Castro overthrow the Cuban dictatorship in 1959 and set up a communist state. He was killed leading a rebel group in Bolivia in 1967.

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