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14 December 2011

Churchads campaign: Christmas starts with Christ

In the run up to Christmas many Christian organisations and individuals are speaking out about avoiding over-commercialisation and urging people to remember that Jesus is the reason for our celebrations. Churchads.net's fashion-themed nativity poster consciously re-treats the traditional nativity scene with luxury branded items and fashion. However, baby Jesus remains at the centre of the picture and the slogan reads "However you dress it up…Christmas starts with Christ".

Backing the campaign, Archbishop of York John Sentamu said: "Christmas starts with Christ. This is the message which I hope our congregations across the country will be sharing with their neighbours and friends... The poster is one way of showing that Christ is at the centre of the story for all people."

Churchads.net is a charity made up of major Christian organisations including the Evangelical Alliance, Church Army and CPO. Last year their poster campaign reached 30 million people. This year they are also partnering with Premier Christian Media and are organising a host of other related items. The national advertising campaign is hitting national newspapers, and the radio advert that will run concurrently takes the same theme, commenting on the characters from the consumerised nativity scene from the perspective of a fashion journalist to make the listener take notice, but concluding with the same message as the poster.

This message is being echoed by other Christians in the media too. In an interview with a Sunday paper Reg Bailey, chief executive of Mothers' Union and David Cameron's advisor on childhood, said he believed that commercial pressures, particularly on parents, are undermining Christmas. He said: "Let's reduce the anxiety and stress for parents because this is a time when people are in difficult financial straits. We don't want everyone getting into debt."

He believes children should stop being treated as mini-consumers as they would benefit from fewer presents in the long run. "It's terribly sad that we end up leaving parents feeling utterly guilty after Christmas, having desperately tried to make ends meet."

The Association of Christian Financial Advisers has urged people not to go into debt to pay for Christmas too. They say that: "Each year around four million people in the UK spend beyond their means to pay for Christmas. The average British family spends between £530 and £682 on gifts - much of that with credit cards."

"Christmas is about giving, and generosity is a good thing - but not with borrowed money," says Robin Stamp, of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.

The Christmas Starts with Christ campaign is offering other ways to connect with the real message of Christmas too. The Christmas Experience allows people to follow the dramatic story of Jesus' birth with a series of free messages via text, email or Twitter. Throughout the Advent season, Premier radio is focusing its programming on the 'Journey to Bethlehem', to challenge and inspire listeners in the run-up to Christmas. And on 18 December at 7pm churches and individuals up and down the country will take part in an attempt to smash the current World Record for the largest number of people singing carols together across multiple locations.

To find out more, and to support the advertising campaign, visit: