The retail chain Urban Outfitters is receiving criticism for selling a "drunk Jesus" t-shirt in celebration of St. Patrick's Day on Monday.
The green shirt depicts a shaggy-haired, smiling young man, presumably Jesus, with a golden halo surrounding his head. The man is holding a mug of golden beer with bubbles and shamrocks foaming from the top, and the text next to the man reads "Jesus, I'm drunk!"
The product's description, as found on the UrbanOutfitters.com website, reads: "Throw some back with the holy man himself in this epic tee! Soft cotton construction topped with a 'Jesus, I'm Drunk' text graphic. Complete with a banded crew-neck." The shirt is being sold for $24.
News outlets and some on social media are expressing their dismay at the retail company's new t-shirt, saying it offends the Irish heritage and also promotes a pro-drinking culture to the company's relatively young consumer market, with its main demographic being between 18 and 24 years old.
EEW Magazine, an online magazine angled at "empowering everyday women," described the product as "offensive" and "reckless," both for its irresponsible approach to drinking and also for its irreverence to Christianity. "Promoting heavy recreational drinking is irresponsible to say the least," comments the magazine. "Incorporating Christ into their reckless campaigns, however, is a new low."
Another disappointed customer reportedly wrote in an email to Forbes that he found the product to be highly insulting. "I am HIGHLY insulted at what this company will do to sell a product!" the concerned customer wrote. "I am not a prude, and like a beer myself, but this is unacceptable."
This is not the first time the retail company has come under fire for appearing insensitive to various ethnic groups, including the Irish. Back in 2012, the company drew criticism from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish-Catholic fraternity organization that's behind the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City. The organization blasted Urban Outfitters for selling a variety of "offensive" St. Patrick's Day t-shirts, including one shirt that depicted a stick figure vomiting shamrocks and another shirt that read "Kiss me I'm drunk or Irish, or whatever."
"There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores," Seamus Boyle, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said in an open letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Richard A. Hayne.
The company has also stirred controversy among other religious and ethnic groups, upsetting the Hindu community with socks showing an image of Ganesh, a Hindu deity, and upsetting the black community with a board game called "Ghettopoly" that plays off the original "Monopoly" board game, but replaces the "Boardwalk" with "Cheap Trick Avenue" and the "Reading Railroad" with "Hernando's Chop Shop."
Urban Outfitters has also come under fire by those who say the company promotes a pro-drinking culture to its largely-underage audience. Other Urban Outfitters shirts that promote drinking include texts that read "I drink you're cute," "I vote for vodka," and "Misery loves alcohol."
The alcohol-themed shirts prompted Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to say in 2012 that the shirts were unacceptable for "children under 21," as many of the company's consumer base consists of underage shoppers. "If they're targeting that audience, then they're sending the message that it's cool to drink," she told the New York Daily News. "We know of the dangers of underage drinking and the fact that it's just downright illegal."