NZ Right to Life group incensed by poster portraying the Pope blessing a gay wedding

Powershop set the cat among the pigeons with this giant gay marriage billboard

A CONTROVERSIAL billboard campaign in New Zealand depicts:

A bunch of rotten demagogues, famous the world over for their abuse of power, and recasts them as people who do decent things in their community.

Not surprisingly, some are deeply miffed that Ratzinger is one of the “demagogues” chosen by electricity company Powershop for its “Same Power, Different Attitude” campaign. It depicts the Great Dictator  blessing an inter-racial gay couple for billboards in central Auckland and Wellington with the slogan

In a blog on its website, according to this report,  the company alludes to the “rotten demagogues” , saying:

It’s satire for sure, but you could say we’ve got a bit of nerve to feature people in our ads who’ve regularly violated human rights. In truth, we think that dressing them up as humble, caring people is just about the best way possible to humiliate them.

But Powershop did not mention the Pope.

A livid Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Tony Ryall, should instruct Meridian Energy to have the “highly offensive” billboard removed immediately.

Orr also said it was insulting to Catholics and others in the community to “lampoon” the Pope, who was, ahem, the respected religious leader of the Catholic Church which upheld the institution of marriage as being exclusively between one woman and one man.

RTL wails on its website:

It is inappropriate for a State-Owned Enterprise to be getting involved in politics and taking a position on a Private Member’s Bill on a highly controversial social engineering issue that is before Parliament. It illustrates that the homosexual lobby is prepared to exploit and manipulate even State-Owned Enterprises in order to fulfil their agenda of inflicting same sex marriage on our community.

Powershop Chief Executive Ari Sargent is apparently unfazed by this silly pustule’s posturing and said the company had received a mostly positive reaction from the public.

The billboard’s message of freedom of choice and equality aligned with the company’s values, he said.

He added that  the billboard was not targeted at Catholics “per se”, but the Pope was an analogy of big power companies.

 (It’s) making the point that some larger institutions can often lose touch with their constituents.

It was never their intention to offend anyone, he said. But:

We’re certainly trying to provoke debate, we make no apology for that.

The Catholic Church in New Zealand had no immediate comment on the billboard.

Labour MP Louisa Wall’s Private Member’s Marriage [Amendment] Bill has passed its first reading and submissions are being heard by a select committee.

Sargent said it was “a bit of a stretch” to say that a few public billboards were going to influence public opinion.

People will make their own choices if they are pro marriage equality or not.

Rainbow Youth organiser Tom Hamilton said anything around diversity was positive.

If we’ve got a power company engaged in the diversity around the marriage topic, then good on them.

He didn’t believe the company was using the sign as a marriage equality initiative:

it’s just a little bit of something that’s left of field.

The billboard received mixed messages from people passing by. Clare Lenihan thought it was amusing.

It’s making fun of intolerant people. I think bigots might be offended by it.

A man who described himself as a Kiwi-Asian Baptist said it was “bad advertising” with potential religious implications.

But another passerby, Ben McKenzie, said the billboard was “pretty cool”.

Powershop has courted controversy with other billboards, such one as depicting former Iraq president Saddam Hussein collecting charity and former North Korea dictator Kim Jong-il selling hotdogs for charity.

Soon after he clinched the Vatican’s top job, Ratzinger blasted New Zealand’s proposed gay marriage plans, saying in 2005:

New Zealanders traditionally have recognised and celebrated the place of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of their society and indeed continue to expect social and political forces to support families and to protect the dignity of women, especially the most vulnerable.

Secular distortions of marriage can never overshadow the splendour of a life-long covenant based on generous self-giving and unconditional love.

He said “correct reason” would tell New Zealanders that the future of humanity was passed on by way of the family, which offered society a secure foundation for its aspirations.

 Hat tip: BarrieJohn