The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is trying to remind young adults who have strayed from the church or are seeking a place of worship that God is ever-present with a new advertising campaign portraying a woman taking a selfie with Jesus.
The daring ad shows a lone young woman taking a selfie. However in the snapped picture, she is not alone; an image of Jesus is just behind her. Emblazoned at the top of the ad are the words, "It's Never Just a Selfie"; at the bottom, the diocese bids viewers, "Join us for Christmas."
Monsignor Kieran Harrington, the vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, explained the ad stating, "New York is an exciting place to live. Yet for some it can also be lonely. We launched this campaign to remind our neighbors that they are not alone, that we are family."
Brooklyn Bishop Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio said the ad is also a creative response to "Pope Francis' call for a church of mercy and hope 'where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven."
The Diocese hopes the message behind the ad will drive young adults in its 187 parishes to attend Christmas mass.
The Christmas "Selfie" ad is one of 11 clever ads translated in English, Spanish and Mandarin. One urges the unchurched to "party like it's 1 AD" while another proclaims Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the three wise men as "the original friends and family plan."
A similar ad campaign last year proclaimed Jesus the orginial hipster.
The "Selfie" ad became more well known after National Public Radio's Peter Sagal mocked the ad during the "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!" weekend game show. Last weekend he joked "The Catholic Church preaches that Jesus is always with us. In fact, He's right behind you." He then quipped, "For starters, why didn't Jesus just offer to take the picture Himself? His hands were occupied."
First Baptist Church in Dallas Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress said of the jokes on FOX News, "When it comes to Christianity, it's open season."
NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn told FOX News Host Bill O'Reilly that the show's goal is to poke fun at the news and make people laugh, and he "regrets that we didn't succeed in this case."
The controversy hasn't seemed to put a damper on the Diocese's efforts. It is featuring the ads in print as well as making them the inspiration for 30-second radio messages inviting the borough of Queens to join its 213 churches for Christmas.