A toilet paper company based in Finland has pulled a line of rolls which featured quotes from the Bible, including the words of Jesus, after protests from a number of Norwegian pastors.
"People like to read small, happy messages while sitting on the toilet," said Christina von Trampe, a spokeswoman for Metsa Tissue, the company behind the Lambi brand.
"The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. Our intention was to spread love and joy, not religious messages," Trampe told Reuters.
The company says they inadvertently placed passages from the Gospel of Matthew and 1 Corinthians on their toilet paper rolls, including Matthew 6:21 where Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Metsa Tissue says they only realized their mistake after they received feedback on the product, and revealed that they picked out the quotes from Facebook submissions. The product, which is sold in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, caught the attention of a number of Norwegian church leaders, who objected to the way Scripture verses had been used.
"This is bad taste and show lack of respect," said Laila Riksaasen Dahl, the bishop of Tunsberg. "Bible verses do not belong on a roll of toilet paper."
In response, the toilet paper company said that they would pull the products with the Bible verses, but would continue their product line which uses witty quotes, poetry and philosophical messages.
In recent polls, the Scandinavian region has often been described as one of the most secular places on Earth. A New York Times article in 2009 that tried going deep into the beliefs and experiences of Scandinavians painted a more interesting picture, however, and suggested that many in the Nordic community might simply have a different understanding of religion, life and death.
"The many nonbelievers he interviewed, both informally and in structured, taped and transcribed sessions, were anything but antireligious, for example. They typically balked at the label 'atheist.' An overwhelming majority had in fact been baptized, and many had been confirmed or married in church," the Times wrote.
The article continued: "Beyond reticence, Mr. Zuckerman found what he terms 'benign indifference' and even 'utter obliviousness.' The key word in his description of their benign indifference is 'nice.' Religion, in their view, is 'nice.' Jesus 'was a nice man who taught some nice things.' The Bible 'is full of nice stories and good morals, isn't it?"