10.06.2005

Then Jesus Threw Down His Cards & Grabbed the Wine: 'I Fold - Damn You, Judas!'



Irish Billboards of Gambling Jesus Pulled

from The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland's largest bookmaker, Paddy Power PLC, withdrew a billboard campaign Wednesday that portrayed Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper table — and playing poker and roulette alongside the slogan, "There's a place for fun and games."

The Dublin-based company was responding to legal threats from Ireland's Advertising Standards Authority, which reported receiving scores of complaints from the public in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

At all 89 locations across Dublin, the offending billboards were replaced Wednesday with new Paddy Power ads that said: "There's a place for fun and games. Apparently this isn't it."

Frank Goodman, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, said Paddy Power had breached its guidelines for taste, decency and religion. "This apparently has caused widespread offense," he said.

The ad provoked laughter and irritation aplenty in this city of 1.3 million.

Dublin Archbishop John Neill, of the Anglican-affiliated Church of Ireland, said it "would be offensive to most Christian people."

But on the editorial pages of The Irish Times newspaper, columnist John Waters called the ad a "rather good-humored piece of public nonsense," and warned of the perils of censorship.

The company's main spokesman — who is also named Paddy Power but isn't related to the company's fictional namesake — said the ad campaign was using images where gambling wasn't appropriate. "We still don't believe we've pushed the boundaries too far," he said. "Some people just take this stuff too seriously."

Paddy Power last drew complaints from the advertising watchdog with billboards that portrayed people betting on two elderly ladies using walkers to cross a street.

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