Bold, red posters featuring Jesus as a baby play on the idea of the infant Christ as the South American guerrilla fighter Che Guevara or the Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
The Churches Advertising Network (CAN), which is running the campaign, hopes the defiant portrayal will attract more young people to Christianity. Francis Goodwin, the chairman of CAN, said the poster was an amalgam of the agitation propaganda that has been popular with students since the 1960s. He said he hoped the posters would create a powerful perception of Jesus and help to dispel the idea that Jesus was a "wimp in a white nightie".
The campaign, to run in December, is being privately funded by donations from a religious charity, the Jerusalem Trust, linked to the former Tory minister Sir Timothy Sainsbury, an evangelical Anglican and member of the supermarket dynasty.
The posters bear the slogan "Dec 25th Revolution Begins - Celebrate the Birth of a Hero", and resemble an image used by CAN during Easter 1999, which carried the words: "Meek and Mild - As If". As part of the campaign, radio advertisements voiced by the BBC presenter Simon Mayo will go on air two weeks before Christmas asking questions such as, "If Jesus Christ came back today, would he be seen as God, or shunned as a refugee?"
Mr Goodwin said the posters were a metaphor for Christianity: "We are not saying that Christians should take up armed struggle or be Communists, although there are similarities between Communism and Christianity. This is a vehicle to convey the message that Christianity actually is revolutionary."
A spokesman for the Church of England said that while the church welcomed the posters, the best advertisements for Christianity were Christians successfully living out their faith in the community.
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