SAN FRANCISCO – Christian and pro-family groups are outraged over an ad promoting a sex fetish event that puts flagrant twist on Da Vinci's depiction of the Last Supper.
In the poster ad for the upcoming Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, half-naked sado-masochists wearing disturbing leather costumes take the place of Jesus and his disciples, and a clutter of obscene items replace bread and wine on the table. The ad also suggests the subjects featured are homosexual and has been viewed as an "open ridicule of Christianity."
Christian groups were particularly angered over the fact that Milling Brewing Co. is listed as a sponsor of the ad and the Sept. 30 event.
"Never have we experienced greater corporate arrogance than in this dispute with the Miller Brewing Company," said Catholic League President Bill Donahue in a statement Thursday. "Miller is sponsoring an incredibly outrageous and palpably anti-Christian event in San Francisco: the Folsom Street Fair."
Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America (CWA), pointed out the double-standard held by the homosexual community in this "open ridicule of Christianity."
"'Gay' activists disingenuously call Christians 'haters' and 'homophobes' for honoring the Bible, but then lash out in this hateful manner toward the very people they accuse," said Barber. "In their version of The Last Supper, Christ, Who gave His life for our sins, is despicably replaced by sin itself as the object of worship."
In response to criticism over the ad, Miller decided Wednesday to pull its logo from the poster but said it will continue to sponsor the event.
"While Miller has supported the Folsom Street Fair for several years, we take exception to the poster the organizing committee developed this year," said Miller spokesman Julian Green. "We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive and we have asked the organizers to remove our logo from the poster effective immediately."
But that decision was not enough for Donahue, who derided the announcement as a "lame statement of regret."
According to Donahue, Miller has not refused to withdraw their sponsorship of the fair nor taken action to remove the logo from the ad and logo on the website of the street fair. He also took issue with how Miller's sponsorship of the event would go to fund an anti-Catholic group that was scheduled to hold a mock Last Supper dinner on Thursday in San Francisco.
On Thursday morning, Donahue called for a national boycott of Miller Beer while he was on Fox and Friends.
"Accordingly, Miller leaves us with no options: we are calling on more than 200 Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu organizations to join with us in a nationwide boycott of Miller beer," stated Donahue.
CWA has also issued its own call for action to California's elected officials and the media.
The group is asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Governor Schwarzenegger and Senators Feinstein and Boxer "to publicly condemn this unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers" and challenging "the media to cover this affront to Christianity with the same vigor as recent stories about cartoon depictions of Mohammed and other items offensive to the Muslim community."
Despite the strong criticism from multiple groups, Pelosi and a representative of the Folsom Street Fair have downplayed the uproar.
"As a Catholic, the speaker is confident that Christianity has not been harmed," said Drew Hammill, Pelosi's press secretary, in The Bay Area Reporter.
Andy Copper, president of the Folsom Street Fair's board of directors, meanwhile, defended the poster ad, saying it was not intended "to be particularly pro-religion or anti-religion.
"[T]he image is intended only to be reminiscent of the 'Last Supper' painting," he said.
"We hope that people will enjoy the artistry for what it is - nothing more or less," Copper added. "Many people choose to speculate on deeper meanings. The irony is that da Vinci was widely considered to be homosexual."
Still, event leader admitted, "I guess it wouldn't be the Folsom Street Fair without offending some extreme members of the global community, though."
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), disagreed with Cooper's take on the ad's message as benign.
"Implicitly, Jesus's disciples are portrayed as sado-masochists, and how that could not be profoundly offensive to Christians escapes me," said Sprigg in a Cybercast News Service report.
The Folsom Street Fair will take place on Sunday in San Francisco's South of Market district. On the FAQ of the fair's official website, even children under 18 are encouraged to come to the event, which has no age restrictions.
Next year's poster ad may take inspiration from "American Gothic" by Grant Wood or Edvard Munch's "The Scream" or even "The Sound of Music!," according to Cooper.