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Christians raise hell about Sweet Jesus ice cream over controversial cross branding

A Sweet Jesus Instagram post showing their controversial name and logo. Image via @sweetjesus_menu/Instagram

(USA Today) — A Canadian ice cream company expanding into the United States has been slammed by some Christians for its name and marketing imagery.

Sweet Jesus, a Toronto-based chain that has an outlet in Baltimore and plans to open at the Mall of America in Minnesota this summer, uses an upside-down cross in its branding as well as an SS-style “s” in its graphics reminiscent of those used by satanic metal rock bands.

The controversial moniker and imagery, which also contains vampirelike teeth and blood, has spurred an online petition at Change.org, which had been signed by more than 1,000 people as of Tuesday (March 27).

“This is a mockery of taking the Lord’s name in vain and also highly offensive to Christians,” said the petition, started by a person identifying himself as Ian O’Sullivan.

The petition added that the imagery used to promote the brand is “anti-Christ” and “anti-Christian.”

“God forbid the name of the prophet Muhammad was used in this manner or the name of Allah against Muslims,” the statement continued. “So why is it that the name of Jesus Christ can be openly mocked in our so-called fair, equal, and democratic society?”

Another petition, on the Canadian website CitizenGO, had garnered nearly 10,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

The company, whose product is soft-serve and covered in colorful toppings, said it does not mean to offend. In a statement on its website, it said the 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.”

Meanwhile, Sweet Jesus co-owner Andrew Richmond told the Toronto Star the name originated when an employee at a taco restaurant he ran kept saying “sweet Jesus” when he served the ice cream prepared there. The popularity of the dessert spurred the chain to open in 2015.

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

52 Comments

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  • Mocking or reality?

    Actually, Jesus was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.

  • Speaking of ice cream…

    What disease did Ben and Jerry… LEGENDARY ice cream makers Ben and Jerry… what disease did they give to all of the prostitutes in their hometown of Waterbury, Vermont?

    Diabetes!

  • Actually he wasn’t as touched as “experts” who bandy about an imaginary scripture called “Q” of which no copy, not even a fragment, has been found, no reference to it over 1,900 years has been noted, and which emerged full-blown out of the imaginations of some Germans.

  • But…. but….. but…..

    If Hilary had won you’d all be being forced to buy the stuff!

  • “God forbid the name of the prophet Muhammad was used in this manner or the name of Allah against Muslims,” the statement continued. “So why is it that the name of Jesus Christ can be openly mocked in our so-called fair, equal, and democratic society?”

    In America you can mock any religion you want without fear of arrest. The Left routinely mocks fundamentalist Christianity but gives Islam a pass. The Right routinely condemns or denigrates Islam. Our freedom of speech in action. Society, however, is not under the same constraints as our goverment and can pass judgement or ostracize depending on the political climate. The author is just whining.

  • Here’s one Christian who doesn’t get bent out of shape over stuff like this. I take it as my personal responsibility to not take the Lord’s name in vain, but it’s not my business to go around making sure nobody else does either.

    People like Ian O’Sullivan need to chill. This isn’t a matter for some kind of mass boycott campaign that will only result in giving this brand free publicity. Like with everything else, the marketplace will decide.

    Thus has it ever been.

  • The author is just reporting. It’s the guy he quoted, Ian O’Sullivan, who’s whining.

    But I agree with your overall point. Freedom of speech doesn’t just apply to speech we like.

  • I disagree. I find that it’s the fundamentalists – be they Christian, Jews or Muslims – that tend to lack a sense of humor regarding their faith.

  • Nobody considers the Q source scriptural and it’s never been promoted by any legitimate scholar as any more than a theory.

    But it’s a theory that is plausible insofar as it helps explain some of the commonalities in the synoptic Gospels. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Anything else is overreaching.

  • So no Christian anywhere is concerned about world hunger? That’s quite a broad brush you’re sweeping with.

  • “Be Being.” Interesting turn of phrase, that. Some quaint yet redundant British expression, perhaps?

    In the land of the rational, there’s no connection between ice cream and politics, other than perhaps the fact that chronic brain freeze compels people to vote for incompetent demagogues with comb-overs. Perhaps we should look into that.

  • So there’s not one hooker in Waterbury without diabetes? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’ve done your research.

  • “They have no sense of humor.” A phrase uttered by every high school bully who’s ever stuffed a kid in a locker and every lout who’s ever told a racist joke.

    I’m a Christian and, as it happens, I have a great sense of humor. I also possess the discipline required to not go out of my way to try to offend people. It’s called being a grown up.

    As for the “Sweet Jesus” people, I believe in both free enterprise and freedom of speech, so I have no problem with them. I also have no desire to give them my business. As it happens, I’m more of a Cold Stone Creamery guy.

  • If you’re going to steal jokes, you must be prepared to live with the consequences. I think it says that in Proverbs somewhere. Or at least it should. ?

  • Scholars who are basing decisions on “Q” in their analysis of scriptures are treating as more than a theory and as scriptural.

  • Utter nonsense. Basing what decisions? All academicians follow some school of thought and enter into debate with those of other schools. It’s what adult learning method is all about. I’ve been studying theology for nearly 40 years and I’ve never once run across an instructor who tried to spin Q as scriptural.

  • I guess some people missed the point….simply put…there are more pressing issues than wtf some company names their ice cream. They don’t like it…don’t buy it. Problem solved.

  • Tell that to the complainers on the petition page. In fact..let’s BOTH tell them. Amen?

  • I’m with you on that. I just don’t see any reason to conflate overreacting about one thing with apathy about something else. False dichotomy.

  • “Utter nonsense” – is that more emphatic than “nonsense”?

    I’ve been studying theology for over 60 years and Quelle is consistently hypothesized as the written source of (primarily) Jesus’ sayings (logia) in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In fact that is one of the foundations of much modern Gospel scholarship..

    Were it not for the claim that the collection was written, you might get away with claiming it was not a scripture (Latin – scriptura = writings).

    http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~kloppen/iqpqet.htm

    Have an utter day.

  • You know as well as I how you were using “scriptural.” Changing your meaning now is disingenuous and utterly— yes, utterly — unworthy of such an old scholar. Moving on. Peace.

  • Yes, written.

    The claim is, always was, and remains that “Q” was a WRITTEN scripture.

    Unlike Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John it magically stopped being copied.

    Typical of this group of “experts” is explanations such as “copying Q was unnecessary as it was preserved in the canonical gospels”.

    Let’s face it: it never existed except in the minds of some Germans with more time on their hands than commonsense in their heads.

  • Damn! I’m SO proud to be Canadian!

    I’m an atheist, too, so seeing butthurt Christians squirm is a bonus. 🙂

  • And it all started when Andrew Richmond’s “employee … kept saying ‘sweet Jesus’ when he served the ice cream”?

    Oh, then, “Sweet Jesus is Just Alright with Me”, Richmond is saying, like in that song?

    NAH, this guy Andrew Richmond isn’t even honest to himself & his audience-slash-customers that he’s actually trying to make a socially progressive statement with the “Sweet Jesus” meme as a sweet-tooth sales pitch to, I don’t know, maybe – atheists, LGTBQs, and the rest of humanity with an …

    X to grind?

    All the while capitalizing on the Trump-bashing Era in North America?

    Before the Sweet Jesus ice cream melts.

    Just saying. No offence. We’re talking just ice cream here, folks.

  • See Rockchalkwombat’s response. ‘Tis okay. Simply avoid the universal curse of false dichotomies, (and try not to offer stuff that’s easily shot down).

    I don’t see a reason to get excited on this one anyway. No hot “60 Minutes” interview here. Just another slow news day apparently. This stuff is 100% filler.

    Ian O’Sulivan said his gig, Andrew Richmond said his gig, the petition-signers continue signing, and the customers continue buying. Next story please!!

  • How about commonalities that include the fact that Mark, Matthew, and Luke were contemporaneous historical figures who recorded actual events aided by the Holy Spirit with their own unique perspective. That makes it much easier to toss out the speculative alphabet soup; or is it Kool-Aid? No personal disparagement intended.

  • Such speculation is a function of “higher criticism,” an academic method which purports to prove that those at the greatest distance in time, geography, and culture make better witnesses than those who actually participated in and observed historical events.

  • I believe the Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture writers. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit dictated to them what they should write. The idea that they sometimes used other source material in composing their works does not diminish my faith in any way.

    As for Q, I neither dismiss it nor accept it as fact. I regard it as an academic theory.

  • The fact that a Q document hasn’t been found and may no longer exist may be related to how many or few manuscripts from this era and time are still in existence nowadays. From my understanding, the percentage of such manuscripts still in existence (of all those created) is small, so it’s not exactly a mystery that there is no found Q document.

  • I admit my reply was not meant as a complete argument…just a hyperbolic statement to help focus thinking away from Jesus ice cream and remind believers..there are better uses of their time.

  • But here you are posting on a website when your time could be better spent fighting childhood obesity or supporting civil rights. Why don’t you care about those poor kids? Why are you so obviously indifferent to the plight of victims of racism? Why? Oh why?

    Just yanking your chain a little. Having a wee bit of hyperbolic fun, as it were. ?

  • No Christian ever told us to stop eating “Devils food” cake! So what is the problem here?

  • “…fact that Mark, Matthew, and Luke were contemporaneous historical figures who recorded actual events aided by the Holy Spirit with their own unique perspective.”

    Believe as you see fit but the word “fact” does not fit your assertion.

  • Even if we don’t have the documents, or they exist in fragments, we find references to them in writers of the first centuries, in inventories of scriptures by writers such as Jerome, and in remote outposts of the early Church.

    For example, the book of Enoch was part of the Jewish Canon until shortly after the Christian era began. It was mentioned by the rabbis, it was quoted, it appears in inventories of manuscripts, and some few fragments exist.

    It now exists only in Ge’ez as a Canonical Book of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. But it exists.

    And did it not, we would still know of it from the other sources mentioned.

    Now, an alleged document that was so important that it is quoted – allegedly – at length in two embellishments of Mark, passed around, copied, and really quite readable being the sayings of Jesus – being to Christianity what the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius were to Stoicism, which even today is read by school children and adults – vanished without a trace.

    Nothing in inventories, no mention by any writer at all, no fragments, poof!

    It would be quite the mystery if the answer were not obvious: it does not and never did exist.

  • And then they proceed to make fools of themselves and make it clear that they’re an ingrown bunch of self-absorbed academics by inventing silliness like “Q” to support their zany theories.

    When you start making things up, you’ve left reality.

  • I won’t argue with you about it, we will merely have to disagree amicably about what constitutes a fact regarding these narratives.

  • Nor do I subscribe to the position that the Holy Spirit dictated to them, but my faith would suffer if I did not believe (rationally) the He inspired them and gave them aid (insight).

  • I don’t presume to understand how God inspires, nor do I feel the need to. We disagree on this point. Let’s let it go at that. Have a blessed Easter.

  • LOL! You know, I can not help but chuckle when I see liberals trying to co-opt that particular term. Even when it fits (as is possibly the case here) it will actually never call to anyone’s mind any image other than that of pampered and indoctrinated college-aged children sobbing and tantrumming over a lost election and retreating to their play-dough and coloring books for solace.

    Perhaps after a generation no one will remember progressives’ most embarrassing moment, and the word can connote something else.

  • Thank you for your honesty. So much more authentic than the “I-don’t-care-about-religion” atheists who spend all day online mocking faith to show how little they care about faith — and what nice people they are, of course.

  • LOL, Shawnie5, you are a yellow SNOWFLAKE and lecherous, obese old cow.

    Gluttony is a sin, you obese old cow and yellow snowflake so get back on that treadmill and get to work!

  • Yes, sometimes agreeing to disagree amicably meets our responsibilities. I too wish you well for a Blessed Easter.

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