Religious poster campaign is halted

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The Independent Online
A 'DISTURBING and threatening' advertising campaign on behalf of the controversial missionary group, Jews For Jesus, has been withdrawn from London Underground trains just two days after being launched.

More than 700 posters in the pounds 5,000 campaign were due to appear in trains on the Northern Line throughout August, part of a summer campaign which aims to convert Jews to Christianity.

One of the posters said: 'Jews For Jesus? Why Not? After all, Jesus is for Jews.' Another said: 'It's easier to conveniently believe that the Jerusalem One never was raised from the dead. Never was seen by 500 people, some of whom were prepared to die rather than deny that they'd seen a dead man alive again.'

The campaign had been vetted and approved in advance by the Advertising Standards Association, but as soon as it began appearing early this week, many of the posters were vandalised.

After what London Transport described as 'a high volume' of complaints from passengers and formal protests from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Council of Christians and Jews, London Underground withdrew the posters on Wednesday.

The Council of Christians and Jews protested after receiving two dozen complaints. It described the advertisements as 'threatening and disturbing to the Jewish community to whom targeted proselytism brings the bitterest of memories from the past'.

A spokesman for London Transport Advertising said that while the posters complied with the British Code of Advertising Practice in offering subjective comment inviting the public to reach their own conclusions, we 'reserve the right not to display an advertisement which we consider likely to offend religious or other major groups'.

Mark Greene, a lecturer at the London Bible College who wrote the posters, described London Transport's action as 'an infringement of free speech'. Richard Harvey, UK director of Jews for Jesus, said: 'It's a case of one group preventing people hearing an alternative point of view because they are afraid they might lose some of their customers.'