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World Cup Commercial Blasphemy?

Monday, June 14, 2010 12:44 PM Comments (32)

Update: According to Daily Finance, Hyundai has decided to pull its offensive ad, which aired on Saturday, as a result of the numerous complaints it received. The YouTube version of the ad has also been pulled.

My original blog post follows…

Believe it or not, in honor of the World Cup, Hyundai has managed to produce a commercial that many of the world’s 1 billion Catholics will find offensive.

In the ad, a priest sings “Agnus Dei Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi,” (The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sin of the World) as a tabernacle bearing a soccer ball is processed into Church for a supposed wedding. A soccer ball being carried in the procession has been crowned. The incense burner has been replaced with a soccer ball. There’s a soccer ball stained-glass window. Church members who are kneeling for Communion, are not receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, but are taking a bite from a piece of pizza, as the narrator says, “All over the world, soccer is almost a religion, but for the members of one church in Argentina it actually is.”

The commercial is attempting to make a humorous point about fan loyalty. The only thing is… it’s not funny.

It wouldn’t be funny if the symbols being used were Jewish. It wouldn’t be funny if the symbols being used were Muslim. And it’s not funny for the 1 billion Catholics who believe that Jesus Christ is the only “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and whom Catholics take into their bodies each and every time they attend Mass.

Apparently, the video is from the Church of the Maradona, which was created in Rosario, Argentina on October 30, 1998 - the 38th birthday of soccer player Diego Maradoniana, whom Argentinian fans believe to be the best soccer player ever.

“I have a rational religion and that’s the Roman-catholic church, and I have a religion passed on my heart, passion, and that’s Diego Maradona,” said founder Alejandro Veron.

The group has not only made Maradoniana into a “god,” but has also created their own “ten commandments”.

The fact that this “church” actually exists doesn’t exonerate Hyundai from its role. The “church” and the commercial clearly mock the Catholic faith.

Like Lady Gaga’s recent music video, the commercial abuses revered Catholic symbols - even Jesus Christ himself. Why? To provoke laughter and drive people to purchase their product. Where is the money-changer-chasing Christ when we need him?

Make no mistake. There is a deeply anti-Christian and anti-Catholic philosophy that has infiltrated Madison Avenue. It’s apparent in much of the atheistic programming and the commercials being produced. Some will be provoked to say, “Lighten up - it’s just a commercial.” Yet, if the Jewish Star of David or the Koran were being so belittled, the outrage would be tremendous.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the only imagery ever used when poking fun at faith, is Catholic? Why is that?

On one hand, we’re one of the few Church’s to have compelling symbols and imagery. Show a Crucifix or a confessional and you recognize it and what it represents even if you’re not Catholic.

Perhaps, although the advertisers may not realize it, there’s also a deeper recognition that Catholic symbols have meaning. They represent exactly who they purport to - Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. Not many other denominations can claim that.

Christ warned us to expect persecution for His name’s sake. He was, and continues to be, persecuted. Now, as then, it doesn’t make us laugh. It makes us weep.

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About Tim Drake

Tim Drake
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Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.