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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK


Church advertisers rewrite Last Supper

Making sure the devil does not have all the best pictures: CAN's Millennium design (Photo: CAN)

By News Online's Alex Kirby

The main Christian churches in the United Kingdom have enlisted the help of Leonardo da Vinci and the Beatles in their Millennium advertising campaign.

The Churches' Advertising Network (CAN), an ecumenical group, has revealed the artwork it will be using on posters in the last days of the year.

The same design, produced by a group of professionals called Christians in Media, is being used on advertising materials sent to churches around the country.

In a move which will inevitably startle some churchgoers, CAN's design is a modern version of da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, showing Christ and his disciples sharing a meal the night before his crucifixion.

In CAN's version, the twelve disciples, "each reacting to the challenge of a completely new life-style, are here associated with the modern power brokers, big business".

Mission statement

"Logos from some of the world's best-known companies are used as place cards, with history's best-known and most enduring logo - the cross - in front of the Jesus figure."

The poster is entitled "All you need is love", with a strapline describing that as "God's mission statement for the Millennium".

The chair of CAN, Jackie Sheppard, said: "The Christian church is concerned with the coming date change in a far more fundamental way than seeing a few zeros turn over the calendar.

"The central message must be that for 2,000 years we have known the life-changing love of God.

[ image: CAN pulled no punches last Easter]
CAN pulled no punches last Easter
"The phrase from the Beatles' song and the power of the popular pictorial image offer a shorthand, attention-grabbing way of reminding people that this is God's world."

CAN's Christmas 1996 campaign, on the theme of the Bad Hair Day, was widely criticised.

And a CAN poster last Easter portraying Christ as a Che Guevara-like figure was described by one critic as "verging on the blasphemous".

CAN, faced with complaints, says: "We don't do wallpaper. We do advertising".

A CAN member, an Anglican priest, said: "If BMW tried to sell its cars with imagery from 1910, everyone would burst out laughing".

"But when it comes to the Christian message, if you use anything contemporary, people throw their hands in the air.

"Using medieval imagery is not serving us particularly well in the last dying embers of the 20th century. Why should the Devil have all the best pictures?"

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