Soap Wars: The Catholics Strike Back
When it comes to using moral outrage to help shift a few units, local newspapers can be every bit as shrewd as national counterparts like the Daily Mail and Daily Express. But this story isn’t about just any moral outrage; it’s about Catholic Moral Outrage™. Definitely worthy of an ‘exclusive’ claim for The Reading Chronicle.
The Reading Chronicle, 10 December 2009:
Jesus soap banned in stores
Exclusive by Adam Hewitt
A SACRILEGIOUS novelty soap has been pulled from shop shelves nationwide after direct action by an outraged Catholic couple.
Bryan and Elizabeth Dent condemned the ‘soap on a rope’ depicting the image of Christ’s Sacred Heart as a joke as “deeply offensive” after they stumbled across it in BHS at Reading Gate retail park on Wednesday last week.
He said: “Some people might find it funny, but I don’t. To a Catholic, the Sacred Heart is a very religious image, people pray to it. The thing was on eye level and at first I thought it was just a statue and thought that was quite good.
“But then I saw what it was, and the writing – ‘wash away your sins’ and ‘try for Heaven with good clean living’ – it wasn’t funny, not to a Catholic. It’s deeply offensive. Without the rope, it looks just like a statue of Christ and shouldn’t be mocked. The girl in the shop didn’t get my point, but Elizabeth phoned their head office to have a go at them.”
Thanks to Ellie for getting her hands dirty and picking out this story, and also for pointing out that the rope attached to Jesus’ head looks suspiciously like a noose. Therefore, surely the most sacreligious aspect of the soap must be that it appears to cast serious doubt on the crucifixion of Christ, the most pivotal event underpinning Christian doctrine? But no, the Dents don’t mention that. They are clearly too occupied feeling outraged about the basic idea of people washing their hands by repeatedly smothering Christ’s body until it becomes nothing but a featureless blob of soap.
If you’re ever weighing up the pros and cons of upsetting Catholics in Berkshire, consider this:
Mrs Dent said: “I told them that by the next day the news would spread among Catholics all over Berkshire. They [sic] day after that there would be protesting members of the Union of Catholic Mothers outside every BHS in the country.”
It took less than two hours for grovelling managers from BHS headquarters to call them back.
Nobody knows how to mobilise quite like angry Catholics. When you’ve got managers from BHS agreeing to a penance of six ‘Hail Marys’ and eight ‘Our Fathers’ in order to atone for their sins, you know where the power lies.
Link: Jesus soap banned in stores.