Shroud of Turin Used in PETA Advertisement

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - An animal rights group is using what is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ to promote its vegetarian agenda, a move that's angered some in the religious community.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Tuesday announced a new ad campaign in Turin, Italy, featuring a picture of the Shroud of Turin next to the PETA slogan 'Make a Lasting Impression - Go Vegetarian.' The Shroud of Turin has impregnated on it the image of a man who appears to have been crucified, and many Christians believe the image to be that of Christ.

"It's a sin for Christians to exclude animals from the commandment, 'thou shalt not kill,'" said PETA Director Dan Mathews.

But the PETA advertisement brought a quick rebuke from Catholic League President William Donohue, who accused the animal rights group of "ripping off the Shroud of Turin to make a political statement."

"This latest campaign is a misappropriation," of the embodiment of the Shroud of Turin, Donohue said. "It hijacks Catholic imagery in service to a secular crusade."

Earlier this year, PETA dropped another ad campaign depicting Christ as a vegetarian by using the image of the Sacred Heart. The campaign was terminated after complaints by the Milwaukee-based Priests of the Sacred Heart over the unauthorized use of their symbol by PETA.

PETA officials said the latest advertisement, announced on the day before the holiday honoring St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals, was timed to "get the Christian world to consider the plight of the millions of cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, fish and other animals," that are part of many people's daily diets.

The group also referred to Christ as "its new poster boy," based on a theory that he may have been part of a Jewish sect that practiced vegetarianism.

This latest use of religious symbols by PETA prompted Donohue and the Catholic League to suggest PETA officials take "an ethics course taught by someone who knows the difference between the sacred and the profane."

"If PETA were as ethical in dealing with Catholics as it is in dealing with cats, there wouldn't be any problem," said Donohue.