An Anglican vicar has decided not to press charges against a woman who slashed a controversial billboard outside his church.
The hoarding outside St Matthew-in-the-City showed Mary and Joseph in bed with a caption reading, "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."
On Friday night, police arrested a woman for using a knife to slash the billboard, and the next day, the church took it down permanently after three acts of vandalism.
Yesterday, police said the woman would not face prosecution because the church had decided it did not want to press charges. St Matthew's vicar, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, said the woman who attacked the billboard was a Christian fanatic.
Archdeacon Cardy said his church was firmly on the progressive side of the Christian continuum and the billboard was about getting people to question what the Christmas conception story was all about.
"Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst as seen in Jesus?" he said.
Archdeacon Cardy said he had no regrets about the billboard and the debate that it provoked. "We are glad that discussion about Santa, food and present-buying was momentarily usurped by a discussion about Jesus."
Archdeacon Cardy has now been invited to speak at a Melbourne progressive religion conference next year.
Richard Carter, president of the Common Dreams progressive religion conference, said delegates would want to hear more from Archdeacon Cardy in Melbourne in April.
"Whether you agree with the approach or not, this issue goes to the heart of progressive Christianity," Mr Carter said.
"It's about the shift in thinking from a set of supernatural beliefs, to how Jesus lived and encouraged others to live."
Delegates at the conference will include Canadian clergywoman Gretta Vosper, author of With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe, and defrocked Catholic priest Peter Kennedy, leader of the rebel St Mary's in Exile community in Brisbane.