Australia’s Anglican community has expressed their outrage over the controversial lamb advertisement that has angered the Hindu people.
Melbourne Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins said Meat and Livestock Australia’s campaign was “cleverly disrespectful”.
He said many Anglicans shared the disappointment and anger of the Hindu community.
Bishop Huggins said the ad put “Jesus Christ at the same table as L. Ron Hubbard and trivialises one of Jesus’ most beautiful miracles".
"Jesus at the last supper before his crucifixion and then resurrection - [the ad] seems to be using that wonderful, deep and mystical event as something they are just appropriating to their sell their sheep," he told SBS World News.
He was referring to the depiction of Jesus turning Greek goddess of love Aphrodite’s glass of wine back into water after she told him she was driving in the ad.
Bishop Higgins said he had quite extensive feedback from the community that people were 'hurt' and the ad was ready to ridicule people's religion just to make a profit and get people eating more lamb than cows, pigs or chickens.
“The advertisement is cleverly disrespectful. It seems that for an ad to stand out there has to be some bizarre or shocking component. Otherwise the fear is it will not be noticed,” Bishop Huggins said.
He said he did not want to address the ad as it would draw attention to it but he decided not to stay silent on the “insulting portrayal” because it may have been construed as “tacit acceptance”.
“Australia’s wool industry has thrived for more than two centuries without having to insult anyone to sell its product,” Bishop Huggins said.
“Like most depictions of my faith in the public domain, this ad just left me feeling sad.”
MLA came underfire this week after they launched its latest marketing campaign featuring actors portraying Jesus, Lord Ganesh, L. Ron Hubbard and Buddha.
The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has received about 30 complaints about the ad.
An ASB spokesperson told SBS World News most people who complained cited discrimination and vilification on the grounds of religion.
But Meat and Livestock Australia said it had never intended to offend anyone with its new campaign.
"Lamb is the meat that brings people together. Our 'You Never Lamb Alone' campaigns have promoted the value of unity and inclusivity. This latest campaign instalment is no different," MLA Group marketing manager Andrew Howie said.
“The campaign features gods, prophets and deities from across a wide range of religions alongside atheism, in a clearly fantastic nature, with the intent of being as inclusive as possible. To achieve this we undertook extensive research and consultation."
Mr Howie also pointed out Ganesh was sitting across the table from Buddha who was another vegetarian.
"Neither of them are eating meat or drinking wine but they were willing participants at the party which we would hope everyone can come together and celebrate their difference," he said.
Hindu Council of Ausralia spokesperson Balesh Dhankhar said they were "very hurt and angry about this ad campaign".
"The reason being the Hindu community cannot imagine their deity, Lord Ganesh in this case, as eating meat," he told SBS World News.
Mr Dhankhar said most people who follow Hinduism were vegetarians and seeing Lord Ganesh in this manner was "very insulting".
Council of Indian Australians president Mohit Kumar demanded an apology from MLA and wanted the ad to be scrapped.
Mr Kumar also pointed out the release of the ad had come at a time where Hindus were celebrating a religious holiday dedicated to the deity, Ganesh Chaturthi, which ran from August 25 to September 5.
It is an event celebrated by millions of Indians who believe Lord Ganesh appears on earth for 11 days.
"All we ask of MLA is to take [down] the ad voluntary and just apologise to the Indian community and move on, that’s it," Mr Kumar told SBS World News.