The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


'PETA Campaign Coverage'
Both sides see red over orange Falls Rd advert

From The Universe dated October 17, 1999:
Report by Marie Parry

A radical animal rights group had inadvertently increased political tensions in Northern Ireland over its latest advertising campaign.

American organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have been condemned by Sinn Fein over a controversial poster campaign which depicts Jesus with a slice of orange for his halo.

The poster, which will debut on the Falls road in Belfast this month, was intended to encourage people to become vegetarian but the choice of venue and imagery has raised questions of insensitivity.

Sinn Fein press officer and Belfast City Councillor, Michael Brown said: "I think they need to reconsider who they get to do their public relations.

"Their message would have appealed to anyone, not just Catholics, but using this image will turn a lot of people off."

Toni Vernelli, European campaign coordinator for PETA admitted that the poster was designed to be "provocative" but denied that it had deliberately made reference to the political tensions in the province.

"You have to do something different to attract attention," she said. "The intention was just to make the poster slightly different rather than using a standard picture of Jesus - we certainly didn't mean to cause offence."

But the decision to launch the poster on the Falls road, with its reputation as the frontline of tensions between the unionist and nationalist communities, has further raised speculation.

"We have to ask why they chose the Falls road," said Mr Brown.

"I would have thought that a city centre site would have been the best place."

Mr Brown said: "We don't take issue with the colour orange - it's just the orange insinuation.

"But it's controversial enough that they've used an image of Jesus at all."

Ms Vernelli, from Vancouver Canada, denied that the advertising campaign was an attempt to jump on the religious advertising bandwagon.

Defending the decision she said: "We wanted to reach the heart of the Catholic community and we thought this would be the best place.

"Our main focus is on the ethical treatment of animals.

"We wanted to reach out to as many people as possible with this message and we thought that people would be more likely to listen to us if they thought that Jesus led a vegetarian lifestyle."

According to the group there is no evidence in the Bible that Jesus ever ate meat.

Instead they state that Jesus took the apostles away from being fishermen to become fishers of men.

"Jesus said 'Thou shalt not kill,' that's a broad rule, it doesn't just apply to our own species," said Ms Vernelli.

"We thought that if we told people Jesus was a vegetarian anyone with compassion wouldn't eat meat."

The poster campaign, which will be launched in Belfast on October 20, has been run extensively in America including twice along the route taken by the Pope in his visit to St. Louis, Missouri earlier this year.

Reproduced with thanks.

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