The vicar behind the controversial billboard outside St Matthew in the City, Auckland, is in the headlines again over a campaign to display atheist slogans on buses.
NZ Bus decided last month to ban the display of paid adverts showing such slogans as "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
The company tentatively approved the ads for buses in major centres, but backed down after receiving complaints from the public and staff. Similar campaigns have run in Australia, the United States, Britain and other European countries.
In a statement, Glynn Cardy distanced himself from the spirit of the campaign. His concern, rather, was to uphold the principle of free speech.
"There are many Christians who although not atheistic do not wish for those of differing beliefs, including those of such slogans, to be censored," he said. "Their view would coincide with Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s words 'I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'
"Free speech is an important principle undergirding both democracy and spiritual inquiry. Although there are some limits to free speech, for example hate speech and pornography, the onus should be upon those wanting to restrain free expression to prove their case. Free speech should be the norm, censorship the exception.
"The proposed atheist campaign brings into the public eye a debate about the nature and existence of God. This is a debate that many Christians want to engage in.
"Is God, following Richard Dawkins, simply an all-powerful male in the sky for whom there is no evidence and therefore can be dismissed? Or is God an expansive spiritual power that has the capacity to call forth the best in human beings? Are there some depictions of God that are oppressive, and are there some that are not?
"The seeming capitulation of NZ Bus to those fearful of discussing theological ideas is a sad reflection upon our society. What are we afraid of? Is God, or any belief, so sacrosanct that it can’t be publicly debated? Are we frightened of discussion and difference?
"Buses these days seem to carry a number of advertisements some of which promote the consumption of alcohol, a diet of violent television, and other messages that could be seen to be morally questionable. Most advertising is encouraging us to buy, whether the product is essential or not.
"How refreshing it is to see advertising that is not asking us to buy anything, aspire to be slim, or sell us a lifestyle we can’t afford. How refreshing that the advertising simply asks us to think, not worry, and enjoy life.
"I hope NZ Bus will review their decision."