With warmer weather just around the corner, plenty of people are mad about ice cream these days — but one ice cream company now has a lot of people mad at it.
Sweet Jesus ice cream, which was founded by Andrew Richmond and Amin Todai in 2015 in Toronto, Canada, is facing new calls for a boycott from Christian communities over its name. One CitizenGo.org petition, which has garnered more than 10,000 signatures by Tuesday, claims the ice cream shops "serve up blasphemy."
"Choosing the name of our Lord for a brand of soft-serve ice cream is totally offensive and revolting," the petition reads. "However, this is anything but a mere mistake. ... The message is clear: 'Sweet Jesus' is all about trashing Christianity and mocking the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The petition references names of certain frozen flavors on the Sweet Jesus menu, including "Red Rapture" and "Sweet Baby Jesus," as well as other religious language the chain uses on social media. The chain has almost 20 locations in Canada, one location in Baltimore, and its second U.S. location is set to open soon in Minnesota's Mall of America.
Another Change.org petition is calling for Sweet Jesus to "remove offensive Antichrist imagery immediately."
"This is a mockery of taking the Lord's name in vain and also highly offensive to Christians. The imagery used to promote the brand is also anti-Christ and therefore anti-Christian, for example, using upside down crosses on the labels of the ice cream cups," reads the description of the petition, which has more than 1,500 signatures.
Though the recent backlash is new, Sweet Jesus already features a disclaimer about its name posted on its website: "Our 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."
In a statement to CBC, co-founder Richmond said Sweet Jesus will stand by its name.
"We are conscious of the fact that, to some, our name can be off-putting," he told CBC. "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.
He continued, "In our experience, the majority of people understand that we're not trying to make a statement about religion."
A representative for Sweet Jesus was not immediately available for comment.
For now, it looks like this ice cream chain is OK with some people giving it the cold shoulder.