(SACNS Africa News; Catholic Watchdog SA)
Chris Townsend of the SACBC: Belittles Christians upset with Woolworths, as "Hot Cross Christians" among other hateful mocking phrases; and then assumes to tell non-Catholics what is or is not an important part of their faith.; Some Christians feel 1 Corinthians 8:4 forbids the eating of meat ritually slaughtered as part of Islam
Given that Hot Cross Buns, are a symbol of the Christian faith, some ordinary South African citizens, raised concern over the fact Woolworths went out of their way to have the buns certified and packaged as Halaal. They believed that selling Halaal Hot Cross Buns, over Easter, was insensitive to their beliefs. 1 Corinthians 8:4 in the bible, does appear to forbid Christians eating foods dedicated to a non-Christian God. Halaal does certify that food is acceptable for Muslim consumption, often involving ritual rites by a Muslim religious, and ensuring certain foods are excluded, and food is dealt with in a certain way. In France, Canada, and many other countries, Animal Rights have been debated in relation to Halaal, as some think the ritual killing of animals in the manner specified by Halaal authorities to be cruel.
In some countries, food slaughtered in a halaal manner, is seen as cruel to animals, or possibly cruel, and campaigning has been made in the opposite direction: to label all Halaal foods, to prevent animal rights campaigners from eating them.
When a group of Christians, objected to Woolworths advertising their Easter Hot Cross Buns, as Halaal, some Christians, took to Twitter to air confusion, and a bit of disappointment, in the chain. This, given the deep spiritual meaning of the buns, in the perception of many Christians. Hot Cross Buns, do form a part of Easter celebrations, and they were saddened as they thought that their religious beliefs were being undermined. Rituals performed on food, dedicating them to Gods other than the Christian one, also are felt to be against the bible by some Christians.
This sort of debate, is to be expected in a multicultural society. The fact that Woolworths went out of their way to make the particular buns Halaal, while other foods sold at Woolworths are not, is certainly a move to be debated. Also, whether or not Woolworths also looked into making the buns acceptible to Jewish customers, or just Muslims. It doesn't matter what side of the debate you are on, this is a debate befitting a democracy, and those debating this issue, should not be belittled and called hate names, by a man who is supposed to represent the Catholic Church to media in South Africa.
I will quote a bit of the situation, including the very insensitive remarks by Chris Townsend, and the more sensitive response by Woolworths, the company noted, in the contrast.
To give the very belittling comments, about non-Catholics' religions, by the clearly bigoted Chris Townsend:
The Mercury (part of Independent Newspapers/IOL) 'Hot cross Christians irate over buns' by Suren Naidoo March 29 2012 at 10:15am
"While Woolworths has come under fire from some Christians for putting the halaal certification mark on hot-cross bun packaging, Father Chris Townsend of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has labelled the issue “a storm in a baking pan”.
In the messages some members of the Christian community complained that hot-cross buns had special significance to Christians, and thus the halaal symbol – signifying foods Muslims may eat – should not be used.
“It’s not about the ingredients – it’s the act of taking something tied to my beliefs and stamping it with a halaal symbol,” another read.
But Townsend said it was “over-reaction by some members of the Christian community” and people should be more understanding.
“We live in a multicultural society and need more understanding and religious tolerance… Hot-cross buns are only a symbol and not a central tenet of Christianity. There are a lot more weighty issues to deal with in SA than a few ‘hot cross Christians’,” he said.
“Woolworths is not being insensitive to Christians. In fact, they are being sensitive to the food certification requirement to accommodate all communities by including the halaal and kosher marks. Christians don’t have the same food-marking requirements, so I don’t have a problem with the issue. The halaal stamp does not mean the food was prayed for by Muslims, but that it is okay for Muslims to eat,” said Townsend.
“They were unhappy about us selling hot-cross buns with a halaal certification over the Easter period. We apologise and assure our customers that no offence was intended… our next Easter offer will have both non-halaal certified hot-cross buns and halaal certified spiced buns,” it said.
“Woolworths sells hot-cross buns throughout the year. They are produced in a facility that is halaal-certified. Our desire was to offer this well-loved product on an all-inclusive basis that would not exclude any of our customers from enjoying them… All our customers are very important to us and we take all their feedback seriously,” added the company."
Father Chris, then takes it upon himself, to decide what is or is not important to Christians of other belief systems:
SAPA | 'Woolies facing wrath over hot cross buns' by SAPA staff at 2012-03-29 09:26
""Hot cross buns are only a symbol, and not a central tenet of Christianity. There are a lot more weighty issues to deal with in SA than a few 'hot cross Christians'," he was quoted as saying."
also note the summary in The Star:
The Star (Independent Newspapers/IOL) | 'Halaal hot cross buns spice up an Easter tweet' by Suren Naidoo March 29 2012 at 11:16am