The Australian group Dying to Live is taking heat after publishing an ad earlier this month in which two Roman soldiers encourage Jesus to become an organ donor while he is dying on the cross.
At the end of the ad — titled “What Would Jesus Do?” — the Son of God agrees to help others by donating his organs. Throughout the commercial, the two soldiers explain some of the rules and requirements for becoming an organ donor.
More than 17,000 people have signed a petition, hoping to see the “disrespectful ad” banned in Australia.
“This advertisement is clearly mocking our Lord Jesus and it is offensive,” the petition reads. “No faith has suffered as much as Christianity and many Christians are martyred all around the globe for their faith. No other religion will ever tolerate this kind of mockery and disrespect.”
But Richard Todd, who directed the commercial, said on Australia’s “Today Show” that viewers need to understand the “whole intent” of the controversial advertisement.
“I was also brought up in a Christian family,” Todd explained. “The whole intent of this is really to look at what Jesus would do if he was alive in 2018. And religion is all about being selfless; [organ donation] is the most selfless act anyone could do.”
The commercial was also intended to raise awareness for Todd’s new documentary, “Dying to Live,” which chronicles the ways in which Australia “ lags behind similar countries in organ and tissue donor rates.”