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Commentary

Sweet Jesus Ice Cream

Tue, September 11, 2018   |   Author: Vicki Gunn   |   Volume 25    Issue 37   

In our secular society, is God’s name legitimately used as an expression of pleasure over ice cream? Is it any business of the state if someone uses God’s name to promote a brand?

I struggled with that this weekend as someone forwarded their outrage over an ice cream chain that has slipped under the radar for many Christians… well, for me anyway. So we ask ourselves what, if anything, should be done about the ice cream chain which has taken to itself the name “Sweet Jesus Ice Cream”.

According to Andrew Richmond, Co-founder, “Our name is an exclamation. It was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of joy, surprise or disbelief”. Richmond says it wasn’t meant to be offensive; he assures us, “we sincerely do not wish to give offence or show disrespect in any way toward anyone’s personal beliefs. Neither is it our intention to be exploitative or flagrantly provocative.” That’s a curious expression “flagrantly provocative”; perhaps they mean to be “subtly provocative”… you know, just upset Christians a little bit.

The Ottawa store uses a regular ’t’ in “Sweet” but, as we look at this CTV clip, some chains obviously still carry an upside down cross for the ’t’ in Sweet. Subtly offensive, right?

As our nation has spent the last year struggling as to whether we can express any opinion on the Muslim religion… and possibly other ‘minor unnamed’ religions, we are faced with a new reality. We want to know: will Motion 103 protect the ‘unnamed religion’ (Christianity) from this offensive name? If the ice cream chain was named “Sweet Mohammed”, would it still be acceptable to our government? Remember, our government has provided special protections for Muslims that are not available to the rest of us ‘unnamed religions’.

But other names don’t have the same central role any religion as the name of Jesus does in Christianity; in fact, the Bible says that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. The Bible even says that “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow”. It also warns us not to take the name of the Lord lightly or use His name carelessly. Flippantly claiming His endorsement for ice cream seems really to be presumptuous in the extreme.

The chain hails from Toronto, Ontario. I point that out because, in Ontario, even our license plates have standards to which we must adhere. So, that makes it a political issue because, according to Service Ontario website, ridiculing a religion is a human rights issue. According to the Provincial government, license plates must have an appropriate message: “Messages that express contempt, ridicule or superiority of race, religion, ethnic origin, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship, creed, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, physical characteristics, disability or political affiliation.” are considered unacceptable and are classed as “Human rights discrimination.”

How is it that, in the same province, a business can mock the name of Jesus Christ? Are there no standards for the Business Licensing Office in Ontario? What about nation-wide? While my being unable to find a standard does not make the answer definitive, I couldn’t find any particular regulation analogous to the one I found with Ontario license plates. I did notice that the federal government says that there is much importance to a name, “Choose the name for your business carefully. It will precede you wherever you go!”

But I couldn’t find anything definitive so I had to consider the fact that the Ontario government has set a standard for license plates. Therefore, setting a standard is not a problem. “Contempt” or “ridicule” is not ok.

Even though Christianity—the founding religion of Canada—is only an ‘unnamed religion’ under Motion 103, perhaps the federal government would apply the standard they spoke of in that motion to apply a “whole of government” approach to “reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination”?

The only way our Liberal government is likely to rouse itself to include the Christian religion is if Christians rouse themselves to call for it. We haven’t seen a real movement in the other examples of discrimination our government has shown but… let’s make sure that others are aware of this blatant example of religious discrimination, subjecting the name of Christ to irreverent use, even to ridicule.

Please take action—sign and share these petitions:

Citizen’s Go Petition & change.org Petition

Of course, under our historic Christian heritage, all religious adherents were deemed equal under the law. In today’s Canada, we are no longer equal under the law; we have group rights that supersede human rights. It seems that Christian Canadians have been left out of these group rights and left as victims of discrimination.

We are losing the civility to one another that once was a hallmark of our country. Sweet Jesus Ice Cream? Let’s pray, “Jesus, please help us to honour You in this country and glorify Your Name.”

You can do your part today! Join CHP Canada!



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Other Commentary by Vicki Gunn: