LONDON – Christian leaders on Wednesday denounced a Nativity scene at a London wax museum featuring soccer star David Beckham (search) and his wife Victoria, a former Spice Girl, as the parents of Jesus.
The waxwork tableau at Madame Tussauds (search) museum included U.S. President George W. Bush as one of the three Wise Men, actors Hugh Grant (search) and Samuel L. Jackson (search) as shepherds and Australian disco diva Kylie Minogue (search) as an angel.
"There is a well-understood tradition that each generation interprets and reinterprets the Nativity ... but, oh dear!" said the Rev. Jonathan Jenkins, spokesman for the archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the world's 77 million Anglicans.
At the Vatican, a spokesman said it was unacceptable to have celebrities representing Jesus, Joseph or Mary.
The spokesman mentioned the tradition in Naples of using celebrities such as Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona (search), but never as one of the principal figures.
"This means that the crib can be lived as something that's contemporary. But the central mystery must be respected," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Madame Tussauds said it had respected this tradition, using a plastic doll in the manger. The other characters, it said, had been chosen in a public vote that drew 300 ballots.
"We're sorry if we have offended people," said Diane Moon, a spokeswoman for the museum, who said it was intended in a spirit of fun.
The scene also features British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Philip as Wise Men, and flamboyant talk-show host Graham Norton (search) as a shepherd.
Arum Kataria, a spokesman for the Church of England, was unimpressed by Madame Tussauds' exhibit.
"The eternal story of Jesus will last a lot longer than these waxworks or the celebrities in it," he said.