A dating company for extramarital affairs, which reportedly has around 150,000 members in Brazil, has recently caused controversy by using the image of Rio de Janiero's famous "Christ the Redeemer" statue in its outdoor advertisement.
The church that manages the Statue threatened to sue the company, Ohhtel.com, if it did not remove the offending image immediately from the billboard. The company soon offered an apology on its website to the Church and to irate Christians.
The outdoor, located in Barra da Tijuca, in the west part of Rio, transmitted the message: “Have an affair now! Repent later,” with the image of "Cristo Redentor," as the statue is known to Brazil's Portuguese-speaking population, accompanying the text.
The church expressed its outrage against that use, calling it “disrespectful to the faith.”
“The use of Christ Redeemer in this outdoor is an absurd," said the rector of the Sanctuary of Christ Redeemer, father Omar Raposo, according to Terra publication. "It is disrespectful to the faith, religious integrity, the image of Jesus,” said the rector of the Sanctuary of Christ Redeemer, father Omar Raposo, according to Terra publication."
On Ohhtel.com, the company alleged that the image had been purchased for one month, but that the company subsequently sent a letter renegotiating its use for two weeks, after which period the outdoor supposedly would expire.
However, as soon as the uproar began, the company decided to remove the outdoor in order to avoid any further conflicts.
Claudine Milone Dutra, director of the Legal Department of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, said that the church will be satisfied with removal of the outdoor. “The purpose is to protect this religious symbol so that it will not be undermined,” she said.
In its notification, Ohhtel.com said that its intention was not to misuse the image, or to cause embarrassment or offense to anyone. The company claimed it had only used the image because of its cultural association with Rio de Janeiro.
The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro strongly disapproved of the company’s association of a religious image with its brazen promotion of extramarital affairs. The church also stated that the company did not have authorization from the church.