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M&S apology for 'Jesus' filter on funeral bouquet tribute

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/04/2015

Messages accompanying Marks and Spencer bouquets like this can now include the words 'Jesus' and 'Christ'
Messages accompanying Marks and Spencer bouquets like this can now include the words 'Jesus' and 'Christ'
The letter apologising to MP William McCrea for the omission

Marks & Spencer has removed Jesus from its list of banned words after shoppers complained, it can be revealed.

The supermarket chain had previously considered the words Jesus and Christ to be "profane language" that could not be used on personalised gifts.

They have issued an apology and regret for any distress caused after a Co Antrim churchgoer was left bewildered when they were unable to include the name of their church in a message to accompany a bouquet of flowers for a funeral.

The issue came to light on the Marks & Spencer website where customers can order gifts, including flowers, chocolates and hampers to be sent to a recipient. The gifts include a card and the wording which appears on it can be entered online.

On the note to accompany the funeral bouquet, it was found that the name of the church - Christ Church - could not be included, because Christ was considered a swear word by an automated checking process on the website.

South Antrim MP William McCrea took up the case on behalf of his constituent, and said several others had raised the issue with him.

Following the MP's intervention, the words Jesus and Christ are now permitted by the automatic phrase checker in personalised gift messages.

The DUP man said the former policy had caused distress and confusion, especially since the names of significant figures in other world religions were allowed. "Many people were very disturbed by the reports that phrases such as 'Jesus' were banned by the automatic checker from Marks & Spencer gift cards whilst 'Buddha' and 'Mohammed' were permitted," he said. "Whatever the motivation behind the initial decision it meant that one customer was unable to include the words 'Christ Church' on a funeral bouquet.

"Many people felt that Christianity had been picked out for particular treatment which would never be considered for other religious faiths."

However, Mr McCrea praised M&S for acting quickly to remedy the situation, and for issuing an apology to his constituent for any offence caused.

The letter apologising to MP William McCrea for the omission
The letter apologising to MP William McCrea for the omission

"The company has taken swift action and they have confirmed to me that their policy has changed and the words 'Jesus' and 'Christ' are now permitted within messages," he said. "The company has apologised for the offence caused, and they must be congratulated for taking action quickly."

A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said: "We apologise for any offence caused, it was certainly never our intention. We have revised the words included on the automatic phrase checker which is in place to prevent the use and misuse of certain words."

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