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UK News

Advert deemed 'offensive to Christians' banned

The poster which was used by betting company SportingIndex.com during the World Cup received several complaints after it was published in City AM in June.

The Evangelical Alliance complained directly to the ASA about the advert saying it was offensive to Christians and the image of Jesus Christ should not be used to advertise gambling.

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy of the Alliance, said: "We are grateful that the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld the Alliance's view on behalf of Christians everywhere.

"This advertisement was in poor taste and clearly likely to cause offence. Even so, the expressions of incredulity from City AM and Sporting Index at the complaints illustrate a patent failure to grasp why such mockery and disfigurement of the person of Christ should be deemed offensive at all.

"Such religious illiteracy and lack of respect for faith communities in the UK is concerning.

"Despite some assumptions that society would become ever more secular, it is now clear that this is not happening and that faith will play an increasingly important role in British society.

"We hope the ASA decision will encourage businesses to think twice before seeking to exploit religious images and sentiments for financial gain."

SportingIndex.com told the ASA it "intended the imagery in the ad to be light-hearted, humorous and cartoon-like instead of true-to-life."

The ASA said: "The statue of Christ the Redeemer was likely to be strongly evocative of Brazil in general and Rio de Janeiro in particular, and that as a famous landmark it was often used to publicise these destinations.

"However, we noted that, despite this secular use, it was still a depiction of Jesus and was likely to carry a large degree of religious significance for Christians in particular, and that care should therefore be taken over its use."

It added: "We considered that a depiction of Jesus with his arm around a largely undressed woman, holding a champagne bottle and apparently celebrating a gambling win was likely to cause offence to a significant number of Christians, regardless of this humorous intention or references to Rio de Janeiro and the World Cup, because it depicted the person of Jesus in a context at odds with commonly held beliefs about the nature of Christ.

"We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some readers."

SportingIndex.com has been told not to use the advert again but it hasn't been fined.

Premier approached SportingIndex.com for a comment but it declined.

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