WASHINGTON, July 20 (RNS)-- Jesus may have been a vegetarian, but the Priests of theSacred Heart have told an animal rights group to find another picture ofhim for their campaign to promote the ethical -- and biblical --benefits of vegetarianism.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has pulled its popular"Jesus Was a Vegetarian" ad campaign after the 122-year-old religiousorder claimed ownership of the image of Jesus the animal rights groupwas using in its materials.

PETA, known for its outlandish efforts to promote animal rights,agreed to pull the campaign and is now looking for a "new Jesus to starin its ads."

The campaigns featured a devotional image of Jesus with a lemonslice halo around his head. The priests, who number about 130 in theUnited States, said they own the copyright to the image and want to keepit for devotional use.

"The image of the Sacred Heart has been tied to the Priests of theSacred Heart for many years, and for those who have a devotion to theSacred Heart, we would like to have it kept for use of the priests,"said Mary Gorski, a spokeswoman for the order.

Gorski said the issue went beyond the "nitty gritty" aspects ofcopyright law, but declined to say whether PETA had cheapened the imageby using Jesus to promote vegetarianism. "That's not our issue," shesaid.

PETA, in a statement, said some scholars believe Jesus was a memberof a religious sect of vegetarians who rejected animal sacrifice. PETAsaid 9 billion animals are killed each year, "most eaten by Christians.


Bruce Friedrich, PETA's Vegetarian Campaign coordinator, said hisorganization will be back with new ads soon. "This campaign has been perhaps our most successful ever," Friedrichsaid. "We're simply asking that people extend compassion to all God'screatures by becoming vegetarians."