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No, McDonald’s did not ‘allow’ creation or display of controversial McJesus sculpture

A meme circulating on Facebook shows Ronald McDonald, mascot of the McDonalds fast food chain, nailed to a cross in a pose reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus.

“A call to all Christians to boycott McDonald's for allowing this figure to be displayed,” it says.

The figure is a sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, titled McJesus. It was part of “Sacred Goods”, an exhibition at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel, which ran from August 2018 to February 2019.

The sculpture caused controversy and violent protests by Christians in Israel. It was removed from the museum in January.



‘We distance ourselves from this work’


It also caused outrage among Christians in South Africa.

But did McDonalds “allow” the sculpture?

McDonalds South Africa told the Pretoria East Rekord, a community newspaper, that the company wasn’t affiliated with the sculpture or the museum.

“McDonald’s South Africa is aware of the controversial artwork and notes that while it did not originate in South Africa, we officially distance ourselves from this artwork," said Daniel Padiachy, the company's chief marketing and communications officer.

“McDonald’s in no way endorses the use or representation of our brand in this manner.” He added: “We are a restaurant company and we do not engage in politics or religion.”

‘Not an artist’s job to ask for permission’


Leinonen, the sculptor, also said McDonalds didn’t “allow” the artwork – he hadn’t asked for the company’s permission.

“I have no idea if McDonald’s knew about the work,” he told AFP Fact Check. “Legally it is not an artist’s job to notify or ask permission from companies we might criticise or parody.

“I work a lot with brands and logos, and notifying all of their owners would be near impossible.” – Taryn Willow

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