'We’re trying to embrace society as it is' Skip to content

‘We’re trying to embrace society as it is’

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: Kirkjan, Facebook.

The National Church of Iceland’s new ad welcoming people to Sunday School features a prominent rainbow and a Jesus with a beard and breasts, Vísir reports. The ad immediately sparked outrage in some quarters, but the church says that while they aren’t surprised by the anger, responses have been mostly been positive.

The image appeared on the National Church’s Facebook page on Friday. “There was a reason I left the National Church and found another Christian congregation,” wrote one commenter. “I’ve got to congratulate the church for this,” wrote another. The image was variously dubbed “tasteless,” “wonderful,” and “particularly stupid.”

“Shame on the bishop!” read another comment, while another said that the church should be ashamed for “showing [Jesus] humiliated like this.”

“Where’s the love and tolerance among you people?” chided yet another commenter. “It shows we come in all sorts.”

‘It’s really important that each and every person see themselves in Jesus’

The latter sentiment seems to best reflect the National Church’s intentions with the ad—which, it should be added, is only one of many that were produced for the Sunday School campaign. “It isn’t the only picture,” says Pétur G. Markan, director of communications for the church.

“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,” he remarked.

Putting words into action

As for the negative reactions, Pétur says they don’t come as any real surprise. “Love can come outrage people. That’s just how it goes. It’s been shown many times throughout human history that love can outrage people.”

Pétur says he thinks that the picture presents an opportunity for growth among parishioners. “I sometimes think that it’s really good, with a project like this, to take in the responses, analyze them, and realize that maybe there’s really a need for something like this. We really need to break open stereotypes, to open our society and [actually] make it diverse, not just talk about [making it diverse],” Pétur concludes. “If people feel like there’s been some kind of change in the National Church, it’s maybe just a change from just talking about things to doing them.”

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