A beloved Canadian ice cream parlor is facing accusations of being “blasphemous” for its religious imagery and its name, Sweet Jesus. The brand, which was founded in 2015, has faced criticism from the Christian community in the past for its controversial logo and visual advertising.
However, the ice cream chain continues to expand beyond Canadian borders, and critics are now demanding that the name be changed.
Sparked by a blog post on Mommy Activist in which a woman says the brand “blasphemes Christ” and “fetishizes children,” thousands of people are joining the cause of forcing the brand’s founders —Andrew Richmond and Amin Todaian — to apologize and change its name. In a petition on CitizenGO, the main argument against the store centers on the outrage they say would be follow if a shop were named Sweet Mohammed. The authors of the petition state, “‘Sweet Jesus’ is all about trashing Christianity and mocking the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Another petition on Change.org says that the chain is “taking the Lord’s name in vain and also highly offensive to Christians.” They make the same argument as the first petition, saying, “God forbid the name of the prophet Muhammed was used in this manner or the name of Allah against Muslims.” This petition calls for a boycott of the Sweet Jesus chain.
Contrary to both petitions’ assertions that the name is inherently religious, the brand’s co-founder Richmond offers an explanation of the phrase that begs to differ. A statement to Yahoo Lifestyle reads: “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. Neither is it our intention to be exploitative or flagrantly provocative. Our name is an exclamation. It was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of joy, surprise or disbelief. We found this firsthand, often using it while testing new items in our kitchens.”
And after building a brand off of the expressive name, Sweet Jesus will stick with it. “After a lot of thought, we have decided that we will not make a change,” Richmond says. “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. 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. We’re just hoping that our customers come away enthusiastic and ready to return.”
Despite the backlash against the brand, Sweet Jesus continues to be quite the Instagrammable dessert, and more than 113,000 people follow it to get the beautiful ice cream photos in their feeds.
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