Europe’s war on religion has reached an absurd milestone.
According to the Telegraph, customers of budget supermarket Lidl have expressed outrage after the company airbrushed Christian symbols from packaging of its "Eridanous"-branded Greek-food line, which featured images of the Anastasis Church in Santorini, Greece, in order to remain "religiously neutral," as the company claimed.
“The German chain's Greek food range features images of the famous Anastasis Church in Santorini, Greece, complete with its world-renowned blue dome roof."
Shoppers have taken to the company’s Facebook page to express their "disappointment" that the cross was photoshopped. One user, Daniel Novak, wrote: "I'm highly disappointed in a company that is bending over to cater to specific people. Why are you hiding from the history?”
"We are all to learn from history, removing it with Photoshop will cause the same mistakes of the past to be done over and over again."
One user demanded to know who the company thought it would be offending with the crosses.
“Steve West added: ‘Why have you taken the crosses off the top of Greek churches in your advertising?
‘Is there somebody you will think takes offence? There is. Me, Greeks and many others. I definitely won't be using you again if you don't reverse this policy.’”
Another asked why the company felt compelled to erase reality.
“And Daisy Matthews wrote: ‘Why are you erasing the reality from a photo?’
If there were products from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, or Muslim countries with their symbols depicted on there I wouldn't have a problem buying them.”
Still others said they felt discriminated against as Christians, and doubted that the company would treat an image of a mosque the same way.
“‘As a Christian I feel really hurt, discriminated against, upset and disappointed that you have done this, if it is the case I won't be shopping at your store anymore.’
The 'Eridanous' range features Greek delicacies such as olive oil, Moussaka, yogurt and gyros.”
In fact, customers have also pointed out that some of the packaging for Halal meats sold at Lidl appear to feature buildings with minarets, a piece of Islamic religious architecture. According to the Telegraph, the row has spread across Europe, with shoppers in Belgium and Germany criticizing the policy.
The company quickly apologized, but it did little to quiet customers’ anger.
"We have been selling our highly popular Eridanous own-label range in Lidl stores across Europe for over 10 years now, and in that time the design of the packaging has been through a number of updates.
"We are extremely sorry for any offence caused by the most recent artwork and would like to reassure our customers that this is not an intentional statement. In light of this we will ensure that all feedback is taken into consideration when redesigning future packaging."
But the Belgian arm of European TV and radio station RTL, which originally picked up the story after a reader who noticed the packaging wrote in, said it had been given a different statement.
Ironically, the company said it airbrushed the cross because it didn’t want to “exclude” customers of different faiths.
“‘We are avoiding the use of religious symbols because we do not wish to exclude any religious beliefs,’ it quoted a spokesman as saying.
‘We are a company that respects diversity and this is what explains the design of this packaging.’”
"Our intention has never been to shock," said the supermarket's spokesman.
"We avoid the use of religious symbols on our packaging to maintain neutrality in all religions.
‘If it has been perceived differently, we apologize to those who may have been shocked.’”
Lidl’s experience is one that’s becoming increasingly common in the modern PC-dominated culture: Companies offending large groups of customers while actively trying to do the opposite.