'Inappropriate' religious billboard appears near busy overpass in Christchurch

The "inappropriate" billboard claims increases in family violence, suicide and drug abuse are due to declining church attendance.
The "inappropriate" billboard claims increases in family violence, suicide and drug abuse are due to declining church attendance. Photo credit: Supplied

A cartoon billboard claiming increases in family violence, suicide and drug abuse are due to declining church attendance has appeared in an industrial neighbourhood in Christchurch.

A woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told Newshub she was driving home at 5pm on Friday when she saw the "inappropriate" sign. She saw it again lit up by big billboard lights later that night.

The sign says: "Church attendance has decreased, but suicide, family violence and drug abuse have increased." There are depictions of a person about to hit a child, a person drinking what appears to be beer, another smoking from what looks like a bong and a woman crying while thinking of a noose.

The woman said the sign is attached to an empty building on Cass St, Sydenham, and is visible from the busy Durham St overpass. There is no name on the billboard saying who created it.

She said she's "extremely angry" about the sign.

"It's not even the religiosity of it that really offends me. It's the graphic depiction of a person about to hit a child and a person dreaming of hanging themselves that really set me off," she told Newshub.

She said while everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the billboard is on private property, it's "blatant" that it's aimed at the public.

"The person who's put that up there knows that it's controversial or wrong because they haven't put their name on it, like you would if it was any other advertising. And it's on an empty building, like they're trying to not associate themselves with it."

After seeing the sign, she sent complaints to Christchurch City Council and the Advertising Standards Authority.

"It's really inappropriate for anywhere, but particularly in a place like Christchurch at the moment. It's so sensitive that we just don't need things like that," she said.

She hopes the billboard is removed because "people just don't need to see it".

The Christchurch City Council said it would look into the issue on Monday to see if the billboard was in breach of the city's bylaws.

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