PETA’s newest advertising campaign to persuade people to stop eating meat is sure to stir up controversy. The animal rights group is using Jesus as its new “poster boy.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ new ad shows the Shroud of Turin and has the words: “Make a Lasting Impression — Go Vegetarian.”
PETA said it would unveil its international ad campaign Tuesday in Turin, Italy, where the shroud is on display in the city’s cathedral. Some Catholics believe the linen sheet bearing an image of a crucified man is Christ’s burial cloth.
The unveiling will take place on the eve of the day honoring St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, “in an effort to get the Christian world to consider the plight of the millions of cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, fish, and other animals,” PETA said in a statement.
PETA Arguing Jesus Was a Vegetarian The group said it chose Jesus as its “poster boy” because he is widely believed to have been a member of Essenes, a Jewish religious sect that rejected animal sacrifices and followed a vegetarian diet.
“Factory farms and slaughterhouses are the embodiment of violence and bloodshed,” PETA Director Dan Mathews said in a statement. “It’s a sin for Christians to exclude animals from the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdioceses of New York, who hasn’t seen these particular ads yet, says he thinks it’s wrong to use a sacred symbol in an advertisement.
“I am very uncomfortable with the idea of any individual or any group taking Jesus, in particular an image that is sacred to us as Catholics and as Christians, and using it and exploiting it,” Zwilling said.
Advertisements surrounded by controversy is nothing new for the animal rights group. In March, PETA unveiled its “Got Beer?” campaign on college campuses. The group argued that drinking beer is healthier than milk and that the dairy industry is cruel to cows and calves. PETA pulled the ads amongst criticism that they encouraged underage drinking.
In August, the group caused a stir when it sponsored billboard advertisements that linked prostate cancer to drinking milk by featuring New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who suffers from prostate cancer, with a milk mustache to parody the “Got Milk?” ads. The company that put up the billboards removed the group’s ads following fallout from their unveiling.
ABCNEWS.com’s Beth McCorry and Reuters contributed to this report.