‘Sweet Jesus, where the hell did that come from?!’ Now that’s a common expression when something really shocking happens. But to many religious types, the phrase is a strict no-no, much like ‘holy shit’. (Of course, how can shit be holy?)
Anyway, it is because the phrase – Sweet Jesus – is “offensive” to the ears of the ‘believers’ that multiple online petitions are doing the rounds against a popular ice cream brand which goes by the same name.
Founded by Andrew Richmond and Amin Todai in 2015, Sweet Jesus is a Toronto-based ice cream brand which has nine stores across Canada and one in Baltimore, the United States.
The ice cream brand has a powerful social media presence; it posts attractive shots of delectable ice cream delicacies on Instagram. In fact, their social media strategy helped the brand find a place among the five finest restaurants in Toronto based on social media feeds as listed by a popular lifestyle magazine.
But despite the popularity, the brand – which has in its logo an upside down cross – is facing demands for a change in the name from people who say it hurts the sentiments of Christians and insults Christianity.
A petition on Change.org states that Christians are “deeply offended” by the name of the brand.
“This is a mockery of taking the Lord’s name in vain and also highly offensive to Christians. The imagery used to promote the brand is also anti-Christ and therefore anti-Christian, for example, using upside down crosses on the labels of the ice cream cups,” reads the petition started by Ian O’Sullivan.
Started two months ago, the petition has managed to garner 1,046 signatures of the targeted 1,500.
“God forbid the name of the prophet Muhammad was used in this manner or the name of Allah against Muslims. So why is it that the name of Jesus Christ can be openly mocked in our so called fair, equal, and democratic society?” the petition argues.
Another petition – on CitizenGo – has been filed under the title: ‘Toronto-Based Ice Cream Parlours Serve Up Blasphemy’.
Started on 8 March, the petition has been signed by 9,665 people of the 10,000 it aims to target.
“Choosing the name of our Lord for a brand of soft-serve ice cream is totally offensive and revolting. Even if this were some innocent faux-pas, it would still be unacceptable!” the petition reads.
“Richmond and Todai have every intention of mocking Christ and Christianity. If anything could qualify as ‘hate speech’, this is it!” says the petition accusing the founders of Sweet Jesus.
“A picture on their web site shows their ice cream in the place of Jesus in a Nativity Scene,” claims the petition.
But in spite of the heat, the founders have said that they won’t change the name of the brand.
In a statement, the founders said that their intention is not to “give offense or show disrespect in any way toward anyone’s personal beliefs”.
They said that the name was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of joy, surprise or disbelief.
“After a lot of thought, we have decided that we will not make a change. The best brands come from an honest place. Sweet Jesus is an honest reflection of our experiences and that of our customers and how they react when they try our product. In our experience, the majority of people understand that we’re not trying to make a statement about religion,” the statement reads.
There are, however, many who think that the brand name is harmless and is not meant to offend anyone.
A marketing expert told Toronto Sun that the name has hit the “sweet spot” when seen from a marketing perspective, meaning that it has succeeded in reaching out to customers it intended to target.
Reports say that the ice cream brand’s stores are still attracting customers in large numbers who are unfazed by the hullabaloo around the name.
People also expressed their thoughts on social media, which were both in favour of and against the brand name.
Sharing screenshots of a poll conducted by Toronto Sun which showed an overwhelming support for the brand name, a Catholic priest, Father James Mallon, hinted that things would have been different had the name been “Sweet Mohammed”.
I don’t know why I continue to be surprised by our society’s double standard about religious sensitivity. Check out the @TorontoStar poll on name of Ice Cream Parlour “Sweet Jesus.” Now imagine the results if the place was called “Sweet Mohammed.” pic.twitter.com/MmGbHAT0tW
— Fr. James Mallon (@FJMallon) March 25, 2018
But columnist Michael Coren and venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson were among those who differed. While Coren said that Christians should be outraged at poverty and other problems such as racism instead of a brand’s name, Dickinson took a dig at the conservatives many of whom are supporters of Donald Trump.
Christians should indeed be outraged. At poverty, injustice, war, exploitation, and racism. Not at the name of an ice-cream store!https://t.co/NRXxATEwEN
— Michael Coren (@michaelcoren) March 26, 2018
Sweet Jesus ice cream chain is being boycotted in USA b/c the chains name is seen as blasphemous — at the very same time as Stormy Daniels is on 60 Minutes talking about having sex with & spanking Donald Trump?
Good God America. Seek help. (Pardon the blasphemy.)
— Arlene Dickinson (@ArleneDickinson) March 26, 2018
Sharing pictures of the menu, a Twitter handle which goes by the name of @scrueggs light-heartedly commented on how the ice creams can make anyone say “Sweet Jesus”.
I mean, if this menu doesn’t make you say “Sweet Jesus” I don’t know what will. pic.twitter.com/EGuyoecyoP
— sᴄʀᴜ̈ᴇɢɢs (@scrueggs) March 25, 2018