The Order of Saint Andrew issued a strong letter to Jesper Hojer, CEO of European supermarket giant Lidl, for erasing crosses from images of Santorini's iconic blue-domed churches, which it uses to decorate a number of its Greek and Greek-style products.
As Brietbart reported, media outlets and members of the public expressed concerns that removing crosses from church roofs is usually the preserve of radical outfits such as the Islamic State, and took issue with Lidl's early statement that it doctored the images because they are "a company that respects diversity". Customers questioned how expunging Christian iconography from images of Christian architecture "respects diversity", and pointed out that some of its products and promotional flyers appear to feature Islamic minarets and crescents, as well as halal certification badges.
The Order's letter to Mr. Hojer appears below:
Dear Mr. Hojer,
On behalf of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, I write to you to express our profound concern and disappointment that Lidl has chosen to airbrush and digitally remove Christian Church Crosses from its Eridanous, Greek-style products, which display pictures of the iconic Blue Dome Greek Orthodox Churches of Santorini, Greece, and, in particular, the famous Anastasi Greek Orthodox Church, a lasting symbol of Christianity and religious history in Santorini.
The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle is an organization of over 700 distinguished Christian laymen throughout the United States of America who have been honored for their service to the Orthodox Church by the Patriarchal title of an Archon of the Great Church of Christ. The title is bestowed upon them by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the spiritual leader of over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, and conferred by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
We understand that while Lidl may have now apologized for its actions, it initially stated that its actions were not intentional and made to avoid the use of religious symbols as to not exclude any religious belief designed rather to respect diversity. In fact, this statement has had the opposite effect. The elimination of Christian Church crosses does not allow diversity of thought, it suppresses it and marginalizes Christian beliefs which is an affront to Orthodox Christians and all Christians worldwide.
Lidl is said to have 10,000 stores in 27 countries throughout Europe and has now opened stores in the United States with the hope of having 100 US stores by 2018 and growing to 600 overall. As such, Lidl's advertising "statements" have a far reaching effect on the public which should have been carefully considered before removing Christian crosses which end in compromising religious freedom.
The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle will continue to publish and express our disapproval for any choices that suppress true diversity in religious freedom and work to enhance rather than remove religious symbols of belief.
We trust, based upon Lidl's recent statements that the Eridanous products will have a redesign that Lidl will move forward to respect all religious ties to our history and not seek a "neutral" political correct solution, which in the end serves only to alter historical fact and cause confrontation between diverse groups.
In the Service of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD