Canadian ice cream company Sweet Jesus ice cream— currently expanding into the United States— is in the midst of some seriously hellacious controversy. The Toronto-based chain is facing calls of boycott from Christian communities over its name and imagery, and is contending with a CitizenGo.org petition claiming it “serves up blasphemy”— a petition which has accumulated just over 11,000 signatures at the time of writing.
“Choosing the name of our Lord for a brand of soft-serve ice cream is totally offensive and revolting,” reads the petition. “However, this is anything but a mere mistake…The message is clear: ‘Sweet Jesus’ is all about trashing Christianity and mocking the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What some might call a dramatic take on a sweets purveyor, others deem “religious discrimination.” Ian O’Sullivan, the man responsible for starting the petition, wrote that certain flavors of ice cream (referencing ‘Red Rapture’ and ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’) are “anti-Christ” and “anti-Christian,” as are the upside-down crosses and metal-font ‘s” in the brand logo.
Though the backlash is fresh, Sweet Jesus has been quick to post a disclaimer on their website in response to the petitions:
“Our name was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of enjoyment, surprise or disbelief. Our aim is not to offer commentary on anyone’s religion or belief systems, Our own organization is made up of amazing people that represent a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs.”
Co-founder Richmond defended the brand in a statement to CBC, saying Sweet Jesus will not be changing its name.
“We are conscious of the fact that, to some, our name can be off-putting. That fact is something we struggle with, because we sincerely do not wish to give offense or show disrespect in any way toward anyone’s personal beliefs. After a lot of thought, we have decided that we will not make a change.”
Richmond added, “In our experience, the majority of people understand that we’re not trying to make a statement about religion.”
The creators of the petition beg to differ.
“This is anything but a mere mistake,” reads the CitizenGo plea. “Both in their promotional materials and menu selection, it is plain to see that [founders Andrew] Richmond and [Amin] Todai have every intention of mocking Christ and Christianity. If anything could qualify as hate speech, this is it.”
A second petition created on Change.org has over 2,000 supporters and insists we focus on The Bigger Picture.
“We are calling on not just Christians, but anyone who is against religious discrimination to take a stand against this brand until the name is changed so as not to be offensive…and until such time as it does not discriminate against any religion.”
Truly, who has ever heard of people tolerating businesses with religious themes? What’s next, a fried chicken sandwich chain that closes on Sundays? A burger restaurant that puts Bible verses on their packaging? A fast-fashion clothing chain built on the backs of Chinese children-slaves doing the same? A firearm-accessories maker that inscribes coded biblical references on high-powered rifle sights used by the U.S. military to gun down civilians in the Middle East?
Most people on Twitter seem to side with the shop, noting the hypocrisy in getting so hugely offended by an ice cream shop’s branding but turning a blind eye to the decidedly unChristian behavior of the U.S. President, all while flinging the term ‘snowflake’ at said president’s detractors.
Though, certainly, there were those who disagreed. Check out this Twitter thread if you dare/care.