Burger King faced backlash from Roman Catholics in Spain, where the fast food giant launched a Lenten campaign to promote its veggie burger using Jesus' words at the Last Supper. The "offensive" Spanish ad campaign for Burger King told customers to "take all of you and eat of it" this Lenten season as the veggie burger "doesn't have meat" and is "100% vegetarian."
The Christian Post reported that Burger King's other promotions in its Spanish ad campaign used the phrase "The Flesh of My Flesh," with the word "flesh" crossed out and replaced with "vegetable" instead. The U.S.-based burger joint has more than 200 restaurants in Spain.
The Spanish ad campaign includes the phrase used by Roman Catholic priests during the celebration of mass when the celebrant consecrates the Eucharist. The priest says the words of Jesus at the Last Supper shortly before his crucifixion, in which he calls upon his apostles to "Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you."
The promotions in the "offensive" Spanish ad campaign were placed at bus stops throughout Spain and earned pushback among the country's Roman Catholic population, which makes up 60% of its total population.
Bishop Jose Munilla of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante took to Twitter to share a picture of one of Burger King's ads and wrote, "Apparently, the loss of culinary taste and the lack of respect for religious sentiments go hand in hand."
Burger King Spain took to Twitter on Sunday to acknowledge the backlash they received over the Spanish ad campaign and apologize, writing, "We apologize to all those who have been offended by our campaign aimed at promoting our vegetable projects at Easter."
"Our intention has never been to offend anyone and the immediate withdrawal of the campaign has already been requested," the global fast food chain explained. Meanwhile, CitizenGo petition was launched on Sunday, calling upon Burger King International CEO Daniel Schwartz to fire Jorge Carvalho, the company's general manager for Spain and Portugal for allowing the Spanish ad campaign to run, calling it an "offense to Christians."
"Not everything is good to sell and the use of the words of Jesus Christ as a marketing tool in the midst of the commemoration of his death and resurrection is beyond acceptable," the petition argued, garnering more than 29,000 thus far.
The petition also denounced Burger King for "[mocking] the Eucharist and the death of Christ in the most sacred time for Christians" and taking "advantage of Holy Week to launch an offensive campaign against the millions of believers in order to get publicity and money."
This is not the first time Burger King drew the ire of conservatives. In the U.S., Burger King faced backlash among conservatives in mid-2021 when it announced that it would donate $0.40 to the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign for every chicken sandwich sold. According to CNN, some believed it was a swipe at its competitor, Chick-Fil-A, which is owned by a conservative Christian family and has also been linked to controversy after reports showed the company donated to anti-LGBT rights organizations.