A billboard depicting Joseph and Mary in bed, aimed at provoking discussion of the Christmas story, has been defaced and torn down. The church that erected the sign won't be replacing it.
Since it went up last week, the sign had been defaced with brown paint, attacked by a "Christian wielding a knife" and then torn down, Ekklesia reports.
The Anglican St Matthew-in-the-City church says it will not be replacing it.
A few hours after the billboard went up, an angry man with a pot of brown paint, covered over Mary and Joseph's faces. The church paid $200 for a new billboard but this was also attacked. Police were called while the person with the knife, reportedly a Christian, was held back by homeless bystanders, the Ekklesia report said.
Glynn Cardy, vicar at the church, told Ekklesia: "I regret to say that tonight our billboard was attacked by a knife wielding Christian fanatic who was then apprehended by a group of homeless people who care about our church. Later in the evening another group of fanatics ripped it down.
"When knives are wielded in the name of God I have two responses. One is to act to ensure the safety of the public and parishioners. We will therefore not be replacing the vandalised billboard with an identical one.
"My second response is one of deep sadness at those in the Christian Church who don't want to offend any faith position, even the most literalistic view of a male god. By having unity as their priority they inadvertently feed fanaticism.
"We have no regrets about bringing this discussion about Jesus' origins and the nature of the Christian God into the public sphere - into homes, workplaces, universities and the internet. We are glad that discussion about Santa, food, and present buying was momentary usurped by a discussion about Jesus."
Mary and Joseph billboard attacked by knife wielding Christian (Ekklesia)
Joseph and Mary billboard provides provocation