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


'PETA Campaign Coverage'
Advertisers flout ban in Belfast City

From The Universe dated October 31, 1999:
By Marie Parry

A controversial advertising campaign using the image of the Sacred Heart was banned in Northern Ireland after Catholics objected to it.

American organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (Peta) sparked controversy with a poster campaign which depicts Jesus with a slice of orange for his halo.

The poster, which was due to debut on the Falls Road in Belfast, was withdrawn after the billboard company, TDI, expressed fears that the board would be "burned down".

The poster campaign was intended to encourage people to become vegetarian.

The caption read: "Jesus was a vegetarian, Show respect for God's creatures - follow him".

But the choice of venue and imagery immediately sparked a fierce backlash in the Catholic community. Fr John McManus, spokesman for the diocese of Down and Connor said: "The tampering of the image of Christ was regrettable, distasteful and unfortunate.

The Sacred Heart is an image which is held in such devotion here - people don't want to see it used in this way."

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said that Peta's message would have "appealed to anyone, not just Catholics", but by using the image of Christ in such a "controversial" way they had alienated their audience.

But, despite being refused permission to put the poster up on the Falls Road, the pressure group refused to halt the campaign.

Instead, the group drove the poster around Belfast on a mobile billboard.

Anthony Butler of Peta said: "We refused to let them thwart us and we got a great response. Most people reacted with surprise and amusement.

Some people found it offensive, but they obviously had a guilty conscience - people don't like to be faced with how factory animals are treated."

Mr Butler denied that the orange halo used in the poster was a deliberate reference to the political tensions in the province.

He said: "The design was just intended to make the poster eye-catching - in fact it was meant to be a slice of lemon."

He added: "We're very pleased with the campaign

"It is unfortunate that some people have reacted so strongly to the poster but the church has a duty to take a strong line against animal cruelty."

Reproduced with thanks.

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