Commercial stirs controversy. Is it blasphemy?

Sunday, January 9, 2011
By Frank Lockwood

This commercial won’'t appear on Super Bowl Sunday

There’s a Super Bowl-sized uproar that’s erupted due to a commercial that mixes church and snacks. The minute-long spot depicts a down-on-its luck congregation that feeds the multitudes with Doritos instead of loaves and Pepsi Max instead of fishes.

Is the ad funny? Blasphemous? Or both?

Whoever put the spot together may have committed a mortal sin, but he clearly knows a thing or two about religion — and the Bible. The ad’s closing tag says “FYF — Feed Your Flock.” But the ad is titled “Feed the Flock.”

And “Feed the Flock” is a direct quote from the Bible. Specifically 1 Peter 5:2. And it’s a memory verse with an attitude. It’s a command to church leaders and it states:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

My gut tells me the guy that put this spot together knows plenty about the sacraments and about Scriptures. Perhaps he’s an ex-Christian or post-Christian. Perhaps he’s still a believer, but he’s just sick and tired of church.

By the way, the Doritos and Pepsi Max promotion may be art imitating real life. When I was at Harvard, I remember reading about a local [liberal Protestant] minister who had served Wonder Bread and a non-grape-based beverage during Communion (I think it was beer). That struck me, 25 years ago, as sacrilege.

No Responses to “Commercial stirs controversy. Is it blasphemy?”

  1. Sophia Katt

    Wonder Bread is always sacrilegious.

  2. José

    By golly, we United Methodists have a 43 page document that explains our understanding of the two practices which we consider sacraments: Holy Communion and baptism.

    We used unfermented grape juice instead of wine. (A Methodist dentist named Welch developed pasteurized grape juice for teetotling churchgoers. His company did quite well.)

    Our rules have some flexibility:
    “Variations may be necessary in cultural contexts where the juice of the grape is unavailable or prohibitively expensive.”

    “It is appropriate that the bread eaten in Holy Communion both look and taste like bread. The use of a whole loaf best signifies the unity of the church as the body of Christ and, when it is broken and shared, our fellowship in that body. The loaf should be plain bread (no frostings, nuts, raisins, artificial coloring, or other additions).”

    while we’re on the subject, I love Frederich Buechner’s comments on the debate between juice and wine:
    “Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink… It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses. Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one.”

  3. peach

    extremely poor taste–I will say that if every church goer ( of every denomination) boycotted pepsi and dorito products they would do away with these types of commercials

  4. Steph

    Didn’t the Lord take what was on hand and feed the crowd? Whatever the little boy had? How many little boys today walk around with bread and fish in their lunch pails? You’d be much more likely to find Doritos and Pepsi, folks. If Pepsi and Doritos want to draw attention to a Bible story, use your energy explaining the story to those who have no idea what the commercial means ’cause they’ve never heard the original. That’s what Jesus would do!

  5. Caleb Powers

    The Episcopalian in me, of course, thinks it’s hilarious that people are offended by the idea of beer as a communion beverage, but not Welch’s grape juice, which is just as far from the original.

    But, I love this, Jose: “It is appropriate that the bread eaten in Holy Communion both look and taste like bread.” Well, that leaves Episcopalians out. As the Old Rector used to say, taking communion in an Episcopal Church requires two acts of faith, first, that the bread is the body of Christ, and second, that the communion wafer is bread.

    But some Episcopal parishes have gone to using pita bread for communion, which is probably closer to what they would have eaten in Palestine in the first century than either our communion wafers or Wonder bread. That’s funny that you ban raisins and things; I once took communion in a church (Disciples maybe) in which they had congregants bake little loaves of bread, and as they passed a plate with the loaf down the pew, you pinched off a piece of it, and I recall it being something very like banana nut bread or some other sweet bread. So perhaps they knew whereof they spoke to just ban the practice of sweetening up communion.

  6. Caleb Powers

    I just watched the commercial, and for the record, I think it’s hilarious. And you’re right, whoever wrote it knows something about religion; that little glance from the good looking blonde back to the priest when he says “no calories” has no doubt been seen in every church in christendom.

    My favorite part is where the priest is praying in church and asks for an inspiration, and hears the crunch of a Dorito. This could have been on Saturday Night Live.

  7. don hill

    remember who the Grape Juice guy was? Robert Welch.. ever heard of the John Birch Society.. This “methodist was a McCarthy Lover and saw Communists under his bed and everywhere else.. You christians need to understand that you are not the only ones on the block.. I think the Ad would be funny.. did you hear the one about one of the bread and fishes scene turn to the distributor of the food and ask if it was Locally grown?

  8. peach

    I believe the commercial is in poor “taste” simply because it is “politically incorrect” to ‘knock’ religion–I am sure they could have come up with a better idea for the commercial instead of trumping down religion–for those who are religious refer to 1 Coprinthians 11:20-26

    20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

    21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

    22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

    23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

    24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

    25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

    26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

  9. peach

    whoops sorry that should have been
    1 Corinthians 11:20-26

  10. Caleb Powers

    Peach, I guess I see the ad not as being anti-religious, but as lampooning the idea that, like some of these big mega-churches, you have to figure out some hook to draw the faithful to your door each week.

  11. peach

    No–the faithful will come no matter what–why harpoon someone who chooses not to?
    It has always been my stance not to compromise my beliefs and if we compromise what have we gotten from the ‘faithful’ that go to church for entertainment only?

  12. perplexed

    The irony of this, it just might work!

  13. Well, I thought it was hilarious, but I’m going strait to hell anyway. Actually, I’m of two minds: It is definitely something you should be careful about showing. It can be rightly taken as blasphemous on certain levels, but at the same time it raises awareness of Christian doctrine, and who knows, some spiritually down-and-out guy might see it and be reminded of his church-going days and decide to come back. Or, some “pagan” may see it and wonder what’s so funny and be inclined to investigate Christianity. Overall though, I wouldn’t want to take credit for it at the Judgement Day.

  14. cheese

    “It has always been my stance not to compromise my beliefs” -peach

    It requires the utmost arrogance to believe oneself capable of guiding one’s intellectual development before that development has taken place. What are you afraid might happen? That your cherished beliefs might wither and die? I would consider that progress. After all, they are just beliefs. You can believe whatever you want; your belief in something does not make that something true or false. What’s true is true regardless of what you believe about it, and what’s false is false regardless of whether you believe in it or not.

    I believe we should all work to compromise our beliefs as much as possible. A sort of natural selection will weed out those beliefs that aren’t worth their salt.

    Be free, peach. I know people say the celestial dictator will punish you for not believing in x,y, or z, but it’s a fairy tale. There is no heavenly tyrant waiting to convict you of thought crime. You always have the right to change your mind. Let down your intellectual barriers and think without restraint.

  15. peach

    You always have the right to change your mind. Let down your intellectual barriers and think without restraint.

    yes I always have the right to change my mind–but I won’t. There are no barriers nor restraints in my life –Thanks to God.

    You never did say how you have helped the starving of the world.

  16. cheese

    Whatever I have or have not done to feed the more than a billion people who are starving in this world is immaterial to our discussion of God’s neglect. Of course, I could do more, you could too, and God could do a lot more than I ever could. I have a son, and he never goes hungry. I take my responsibility to my child very seriously. Why does God allow more than a billion of his children to live in utter squalor? Why doesn’t he take responsibility for his children?

  17. peach

    here’s a thought–perhaps the doritos and pepsi would better help those starving–rather than putting it in a commercial

    As Anne Graham once said “we have taken God out of our lives … and the gentleman that he is -he left.”

    why is now we want to blame him for children being in “squalor” not everyone takes responsibility for their own child–the main reason behind welfare. Instead of blamin God for the starving children of the world–put the blame back on man for not doing more to help them-this is where it rightfully belongs.

  18. perplexed

    Cheese, why doesn’t man take responsibility for what he has created. There is enough wealth in this world to feed, clothe, house and educate everybody in it. Why don’t the rich give up all they have? These problems that effect man are caused by power and greed not God. The resources are there, those that control them choose what goes where and who gets what!
    Why would think that your problems are more important than your next door neighbors?
    Why would think that God would put you in front of somebody who needs are greater than yours?
    You’ll never solve these mysteries if you can’t be objective.

  19. cheese

    Because that makes no sense, Peach. God created everything, including the conditions that lead to their suffering. Hunger is not man’s creation. Why does he get a free pass while we’re held to nearly impossible standards?

  20. cheese

    Perp, I don’t think I’m more important than anyone else. I’m not starving; I have no degenerative disease. My own problems are trivial compared to those of others. My question, what I don’t understand is how people can praise a deity that started all this crap in the first place. God created our need for food, he created our human desires for power and greed, and he does nothing about the fact that over a billion of his children are in a state of constant and unrelenting need. That isn’t love, and rich people are not to blame either. They work hard and got lucky. Good for them. They can’t solve the world’s problems no matter how the wealth is divied up. Me? I know there’s no deity. That’s why the world is the way it is, because there is no great leader in charge of it all. And, personally, I’m glad there isn’t. Otherwise, we would live in an eternally totalitarian state from which we could never ever ever escape.

  21. Cheese,

    Read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. It explains why there is suffering. Basically, God had to send us out on our own and not intervene. If He helped us, we would never learn. He will not shield us from consequences, even the ones handed down to us by our parents. Rest assured, we need only worry about our response.

    In Mormon theology, we have all progressed to different stages before we entered mortality. You may have good health because that was not a challenge you required. Others, like innocent babies, come just to get a mortal body, experience death, and move on to their eternal glory. Some of us poor slobs, like yours truly, have got a lot to learn and need to grow and are stuck here suffering and questioning every little gnat about the meaning of the universe.

  22. peach

    I know people say the celestial dictator will punish you for not believing in x,y, or z, but it’s a fairy tale.

    God created everything,

    so which is it–He is a fairytale in which it is man’s own fault for the starving children—or That there is a God who created everything–including a mother and father to provide for a child which would still make it man’s own fault for neglecting the children he chose to bring into this world?

  23. cheese


    Nice to hear you again. I’m familiar with Mr. Lewis, and I’ve already read Mere Christianity. It was a very convincing book when I was a Christian. Not so much the second time around.

    You say “God had to send us out on our own and not intervene.” Why? Why did he create us at point x and intend for us to get to point y? Why not just create us at point y and eliminate the extraneous journey? “If he helped us, we would never learn.” This makes no sense. Why not just infuse us with the knowledge and wisdom and be done with it? If we need to learn something, then we only need to learn it because he created us ignorant of what he intended for us to learn. Why not just create us knowledgeable and wise, eliminate the extraneous journey, and be done with it? The journey and all the suffering it entails really does seem like a pointless waste of time when you think about it in terms of a being with unlimited power and potential.

    And how will anything we learn during our lives help us after we die? If an afterlife exists, and we’re all going to exist in some ethereal form, then all the rules we live by will change. Nothing we learn here will be of any use. If we don’t need food in the afterlife, then why do we need to learn how to procure food? The knowledge is only useful during the here and now, not afterward. If we don’t need sex, money, respect, air, clothing, shelter, liberty, etc., then what good will any of the knowledge for procuring those things be after death? If we all come to live as spirits in contented bliss, then no one will need anything. Why will it be important to learn how to be charitable and giving? Charity is only useful when somebody needs something, and nobody will need anything!


    Short answer: God is a fairytale. Whenever I’m speaking of him, I’m speaking of him as though he hypothetically existed. I don’t think he does. Who’s to blame for hunger? God, if he exists. You can blame man for some incidents when people starve and are victimized in other ways, but you can’t blame man for it all. The resources of this planet are finite; we all have desires and needs (which often creates a biological conflict of interest); famine, natural disasters, and other things beyond our control will plague us for as long as we are alive despite our best efforts. Man doesn’t have the power to stop it all. Therefore, you cannot just blame mankind solely for all suffering, but an all-powerful being would necessarily have the power and, with it, the responsibility.

  24. perplexed

    Cheese, if we were to follow your guidelines for Utopia we would all be preprogrammed clones. We would live in a sterile society much like a laboratory setting. We would be another type of experiment, a mortal experiment.
    God’s plan give all men a free will, they have the right to choose which direction they will follow. The older you become, the more you see the clearer path. Success doesn’t mean acquisition in God’s world. It means to touch someone’s life, to care, to love and in doing this you expose yourself to hurt. This hurt is the other side of the goodness of God. It is a road that all who seek God must travel. The road may go in different directions but the destination is the same. While you say you no longer believe, you remain here looking for direction. Its you, cheese that has to take the first step. You have to give of yourself knowing that you will be mocked and hurt and ridiculed. This path will lead you where you want to go and as crazy as it sounds it will be the most fulfilling journey you will ever take.

  25. Cheese,
    I think your idea of God may need a little bit of adjustment. You see, you and I were never created. We have always existed. Like all matter, even “spirit matter” we cannot be destroyed. We can be changed, at least as far as our perceptions go, but not created or destroyed. All “change” therefore is dependent on the perception of Time, or at least linear time. Joseph Smith stated nearly one hundred years before Einstein that God exists in an eternal “now.” There is no past or future to Him, again at least as we can define it.

    Beyond that, what do we mean by “eternal”? No mortal has ever quite got their minds around the concept of eternity or infinity. Until we do, our meager suppositions about the nature of God are just that. We are left with the old adage: “If God created the universe, who created God?” And: “If God is “outside” the universe, what else is outside or beyond that?” Our heads start to hurt. Mormon theology states: “As man is God once was. As God is, man can become.” God took our existence and made us into his children. I “child” by definition grows into its parent. C.S. Lewis said our destiny is to become “little gods.” Well, there is no such thing as “little” about being a god. You’re either all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-honorable or you are not. So you’re God.

    All this explaining is being put in terms of time—a progression from one step to another—but that can’t jive with infinite and eternal. When we say we’re eternal, that means, backwards and forwards, we have always been who we are, but we can’t quite grasp it. But this is the real key, Cheese: Though we can’t understand it we know what eternity is. Why?….

    What you lack, Cheese, is the unimaginable, unexplainable experience that will give you the assurance, despite your ignorance, that God is there and loves you. I don’t mean a glorious “vision” or something like that, but just a touch of eternity (that’s the best I can explain it). Until you have that, all your arguments about God are reasonable on some level or another, but not complete.

  26. cheese

    Nearly everything you guys said can be summed up with the adage: I believe it, so it must be true.

  27. perplexed

    The quest for more knowledge base on the beliefs I have, would sum up it better!
    A spiritual journey is the only way to learn more.

  28. sensible one!

    give me a break!!! i love my lord and my religion but that does not mean we have to make EVERYTHING against because of it it is not in bad taste i think its kinda cute and i am actually smiling because someone even thought to use the church instead of a stupid beer comercial relax good grief grow up

  29. Good point, Perplexed. What I would emphasize is to always be open, truly open to more knowledge. Don’t just make an assumption based on something that sounded reasonable at one time and never revisit the idea.

    Like Cheese, I’ve gone through a cycle of doubt, but I was always still aware of my ignorance, especially concerning the infinite nature of all things—from atoms to the universe. Anyway, that kept me humble, even in my most arrogant assertions about the foolishness of religion. But, because I was honestly still seeking, at some level (and maybe Cheese is too), God’s grace finally gave me real insight.

    And Cheese, you have a point too, but the question you could ask is, “Why do I believe.” That can’t be answered satisfactorily by anyone else. You must have your own experience and draw your own conclusions. If you’re honest and living right, you will get answers if you pursue them. They may not be the same as mine, but that’s okay. We all need different experiences and knowledge. And we need to share them any chance we get—even if they have nothing to do with a Pepsi commercial. Sorry, Mr. Lockwood.

  30. perplexed

    John, religion is a personal preference that most of our parents introduced us too. As you mature and become more inquisitive, you begin to have a relationship with the choice you make with religion. The more you put into it the closer you become to it. For me it was something that was there when the reliability of anything else wasn’t.
    I think with cheese is he is upset that what he did believe, wasn’t what he expected or demanded from his religion.
    It has been my experience that wanting and praying for something specific can be consequential and just down right dangerous. The reason being, you might get what your praying for but your not ready for the domino effect that follows through with you request to God. When I pray, I put it in God’s hands. I ask him to do whats best for who I’m praying for simply because personal specifics may not be part of the eternal plan.
    Cheese has to find his own way, he has to decide whether or not he will make the commitment to indoctrinate himself on a particular sect of religious beliefs. Then if he does choose, the continuing education of the studies will enhance his ability to understand wisdom and not question what appears to be some sort of God created catastrophe! Further understanding provided he seeks mentors who are stable, will lead him to a humbling, spiritual life, if that’s what he seeking.

  31. I totally agree, Perplexed. This life is fallen and full of suffering, but the Lord has let me know it is all temporary. Severity of the suffering is of no consequence in the eternities. It’s all just a little “blip” in our existence. I don’t need to question why I have painful indigestion right now, let alone why millions are starving to death in Africa. I have the peace and trust that it will all turn out for our good in the end, as long as we let it teach us, rather than becoming angry and bitter—that only creates more suffering. Trust in the Lord; don’t loose faith in goodness—that is the test, so to speak.

    That said, being upset and saddened by suffering shows that we have heart and care. It is worse if we turn a blind eye and don’t even bother ourselves with it. So, I’m not at all worried about Cheese or others who are touched by the suffering of others no matter what their religious views. That’s exactly what God wants to see in us. This is all in my opinion, of course.

  32. cheese

    How can you say in one breath that suffering is of no consequence and in the next that you haven’t turned a blind eye to it? By brushing it aside, that is exactly what you are doing, and you say suffering is okay so long as it all works out in the end? You’re essentially saying the end justifies the means. Is that the great moral lesson your religion has taught you? Nothing matters, because it’ll all ‘work out’ in the end? That’s not moral, it’s sticking your head in the sand.

  33. No Cheese, I’m just saying after all we can do, people still make choices and suffering still exists. I don’t know where you draw the definitive conclusion that because you and I can’t cure suffering, and God will not, that God does not exist. If you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. But the existence of suffering, of itself, does not disprove Him, as I have explained in previous comments.

    We can argue in circles until Judgement Day and get nowhere. I don’t mean to be disrespectful of your beliefs or non-beliefs. Just sharing mine, for what they may be worth. Peace.

  34. perplexed

    Cheese, if you study the life of Christ, it was all about suffering. In the hands of man suffering is a prerequisite to a better way. Number one, it brings to light a situation that exists, number two, in most cases brings about change through a third party to eliminate number one. In some cases this has caused world wars.
    Man has to be responsible for his actions and some men still try to right the wrongs of others. Its all on us and by us, God gave us a chance in the beginning and we blew it. We are now and should have always been our brothers keeper. All things that happen on this earth are tied together.

  35. cheese


    You have the right to believe whatever you want. I recognize that, but if nobody challenged your beliefs, what would be the point? I’m not attempting to prove that god doesn’t exist. You already know he doesn’t. I’m attempting to show that, even if he did, he doesn’t care about us, and he is not worthy of our respect or praise. There have been cases where women have been locked in basements for years, being brutally beaten, raped, tortured, and ultimately murdered. Imagine how much they have pleaded for god (or anyone for that matter) to free them from their hellish existence. Yet god sits back and let’s it go on, being completely aware of it the entire time. If he were human, his neglect would be criminal. You can say god exists (and I can’t prove you wrong definitively), but why you would offer such a being your respect and praise is beyond me. Respect has to be earned, and the god of the bible, frankly, fails the test in nearly every respect. You may think it wise to bow in obedience to such an entity, but I won’t recognize anyone’s ownership over my life and never will. But I agree this thread is getting old. Peace.

  36. perplexed

    Cheese, you challenge yourself daily,its not a game its a way of life. its much easier not to believe than it is to believe! You’re only looking one way, open those eyes and that mind and grow, get out of that box!

  37. You can’t be free and be shielded from consequences—good or bad. You can’t be free and not be able to affect other people—for good or for bad. So, choose: Freedom, or non-existence as a self-determined entity. Heaven is reserved for those who make wise, loving choices. Hell is for those who choose hate, anger and unforgiveness. The reason they are “damned” is because they can progress no further.

    Choose life and see what happens, or choose death and when you’re gone, you’re gone. If you’re right, Cheese, then it makes no difference either way. I’m going to follow Christ and see what happens. Happy trails!


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