Australian television has decided not to broadcast a commercial where “Jesus Crucified” appears and agrees to donate his organs after receiving a proposal from the Roman soldiers who were with him on the cross.
The two-and-a-half minute advert shows two armed guards asking Jesus if he would like to donate his organs after being nailed to the cross before his death.
The advert is the lead-in to a documentary called Dying to Live, which sheds light on the lack of organ donor registrations in Australia.
After one of the guards asks Jesus about being an organ donor, the other guard responds: ‘We get it. No one wants to talk about death.’ ‘But your organs could save the lives of up to six people.’ ‘Obviously I would do it. I am Jesus,’ the actor responds. The two guards then tell Jesus he could go online to sign the organ donor registry. One the guards then sticks a smartphone onto his spear and reaches up to Jesus’ hand to tap in his registration. The ad ends with a statement which says: ‘Do what Jesus would do’.
The desperate need to encourage organ donor registrations is what led director Richard Bullock to shoot an advertisement about Jesus.
Social media users were also divided over the advert, with some questioning whether it would be okay to use the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a similar advert.
“Creating controversy is always good for marketing, but blasphemously mocking the beliefs of people who would otherwise support your cause is a stupid strategy,” a man named Laurence (@AusPlatypus) wrote on Dying to Life’s Twitter feed. “We’ll turn the other cheek. But I’ll give you one tip – don’t make an ad featuring Mohammed, that might not end well.”
Another person, Rob (@RK7487), wrote, “I support organ donation. I don’t [support] mocking life and sacrifice as a means to bring awareness. Where is your honour?”
Meanwhile, the charity which supports transplant recipients and their families, Transplant Australia, expressed its disappointment with the ad.
Transplant Australia CEO, Chris Thomas, confirmed that Transplant Australia, the national community voice for organ and tissue donation and transplantation, was not involved in the ‘What would Jesus Do?’ advertisement prepared alongside a new documentary titled ‘Dying to Live’ which has been released nationally this month.
“Why then mock and ridicule the religion and faith of at least 52 per cent of the Australian population who, according to the 2016 Census identified as Christians, in an attempt to promote organ donation?
“And it is this very group of Australians who traditionally have been the greatest supporters of organ donation. Why undermine this support with this advertisement of Jesus being crucified? If the answer is to get people talking then unfortunately the campaign might achieve that – but for all the wrong reasons.”