NEW YORK – Is morality going down the toilet?
The pastor of the nondenominational Times Square Church would probably agree and is not budging over a racy billboard featuring poses of nude buttocks.
Pastor Neil Rhodes is fighting an advertisement to promote the Washlet – a bidet toilet that cleans the bum via water and warm air – that was set to wrap around the congregation's house of worship.
He worries that the ad will affect people attending the interdenominational church since there is no way to avoid looking at the nudity.
"You walk into a church building, you have naked bodies before your eyes – how are you going to close your eyes and seek God?" asked Rhodes in the New York Post. "It's wrong as far as we're concerned."
The head of the 8,000-member church is now asking the state court to block the advertisement, explaining that they will interfere with the church's mission and be extremely harmful to those that attend his services.
The billboard, which would run on both sides of the church's outside, would feature several photographs of nudes with their bottoms facing outward. The models would also have smiley faces painted on their buttocks.
The lawyer for the bidet's advertising company, Van Wagner Communications, is arguing that the litigation is unnecessary, however, since provocative promotions litter the Times Square area, and that there is even a strip club just across the street from the sanctuary.
"It's not to trivialize the church's distaste for the sign," said attorney Adam Silverstein to the New York Post. "This is Times Square. It's the billboard capital of the world, and it's home to the most sensational advertisements in the universe."
The ad was set to begin its stay on Broadway on July 1 and remain up for 30 days. Groups are currently awaiting a decision by Justice Marcy Friedman expected on Monday.
Church representatives are currently suing three groups: the landlord of the building they rent the church from, Van Wagner Communications, and the billboard's owner New York Sign.
This is the first billboard lawsuit brought up by the church since it first began in 1996.
Rhodes hopes that the ruling is found in favor of his church's members.
"Exposing young minds to other people's naked bodies – I think it's a step backward, not a step forward," he concluded.