The UK’s largest bakery chain has been forced to apologize for offending Christians after a pre-Christmas advertising campaign was criticized for featuring a nativity scene that replaced baby Jesus with a sausage roll.
The image was part of an advent calendar available at some of Greggs 1,700 nationwide stores and depicted a scene from the Gospel of Mathew showing the the “Three Wise Men” in the stable where Jesus was said to have been born.
But the advert somewhat deviated from the text of the scripture, showing a pork sausage roll, a popular British pastry snack and one of the Greggs best sellers, in the place where baby Jesus would have been.
While some found the advert amusing, a number of Christian groups slammed the image as disrespectful.
Simon Richards, chief executive of the Freedom Association, a UK-based right wing pressure group, urged a public boycott of Greggs for what he called the “sick anti-Christian advent calendar.”
Please boycott @GreggsOfficial to protest against its sick anti-Christian Advent Calendar. What cowards these people are: we all know that they would never dare insult other religions! They should donate every penny of their profits to @salvationarmyuk https://t.co/tAV7CRP7WM
— Simon Richards (@simplysimontfa) November 15, 2017
The UK Evangelical Alliance also criticized the calendar, calling it a publicity stunt.
“Putting a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene seems to be manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods and neglecting the real scandal of Christmas. Every year some company creates a Christmas controversy for commercial gain; it seems to get earlier each year,” a statement from the group said.
One Twitter user said, apparently not in jest, that the image was “unbelievably inappropriate” as Jesus was Jewish and would not have been able to eat the non-Kosher pork sausage roll.
Out of interest do you think the people at Greggs understand that Jesus was Jewish and serving up a pork sausage roll in the manger is unbelievably inappropriate?
— Beth Rosenberg (@bethvaughan15) November 13, 2017
A Greggs spokesperson said: “We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”
The calendar was on sale for £24 and included vouchers for discounted sausage rolls and other Greggs products including their iconic Steak Bakes and Cheese and Bacon Wraps. Other publicity photos included Santa Claus eating a sausage roll with his beard full of pastry flakes, and a festive Christmas dinner table laden with savory pastries.