“Sweet Jesus” ice cream shop, which is based in Canada but has recently expanded to the United States, is being criticized by Christians who think the business is “offensive” and should change its name.
There are multiple petitions, with many thousands of signatures, from snowflakes across the U.S. who are melting because the shop’s name triggered them. They are calling it “religious discrimination,” despite the fact that the owners say the name refers to customers’ reactions when they try their treats.
In fact, the creators of the dessert say they didn’t intend to make any statement on religion when they chose the name of the shop or its branding. But that doesn’t stop some people from claiming they just hate Jesus.
“Choosing the name of our Lord for a brand of soft-serve ice cream is totally offensive and revolting,” reads one petition on CitizenGo.org, an activist group that describes itself as being in favour of “life, family, and liberty.”
“This is anything but a mere mistake,” the petition, signed by almost 10,000 people, reads. “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.”
Another petition on Change.org says if a chain were to use a name invoking figures from other religions, it wouldn’t be permitted.
“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,” that petition reads.
What does it say about the broader Christian community when this shop’s name infuriates them to the point of demanding change while there are plenty of other issues where Christian voices aren’t being heard in any significant way? They could be criticizing Donald Trump for using evangelicals as shields for his policy decisions, or speaking out against abusive pastors and the churches that harbor them, or going after hypocrisy within their ranks, but their focus is on an ice cream shop that hasn’t even shown any desire to mock Christianity.
Their priorities are completely skewed.
Fortunately, it doesn’t look like the shop owners are going to cave to the religious pressure and change their name.
“We are conscious of the fact that, to some, our name can be off-putting,” Richmond said. “That fact is something we struggle with, because we sincerely do not wish to give offence 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,” the statement continues.
“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.”
After looking at this company’s menu (oh, the menu…) and signage, I couldn’t agree more. This is a pretty clear case of something harmless and funny being blown out of proportion by people who are programmed to see Christian Persecution everywhere they look.