Pastor welcomes Hell Pizza
IF HELL Pizza set up shop in Rockhampton, Presbyterian Minister Mike O’Connor wouldn’t think twice about taking his church youth group for a slice of Damned or Purgatory pizza.
A Brisbane church this week condemned the opening of a new Hell Pizza store in a nearby suburb, saying advertising for the pizza outlet’s new Brookwater store would send children a confusing message about hell.
“The restaurant’s playing in dangerous territory and several members of our church have expressed concern that they have come to our area,” Springfield Christian Family Church Pastor John Van Bennekom said.
However, Reverend O’Connor of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Denham Street yesterday said such comments were over the top.
“Those views are out of touch with society and make the church look irrelevant,” Reverend O’Connor said.
“If you are going to carry on about the name of a pizza store, where will it stop? What about the Melbourne Demons Football Club or television shows like Hell’s Kitchen?”
Hell Pizza’s advertising slogans include “Kids are evil, feed them” and if you call to place an order you are greeted with a friendly, “Welcome to Hell”.
Their pizzas have names such Purgatory and Damned and they offer home delivery service called Hot as Hell Deliverance.
“I’d buy a pizza from them; even take our church youth group there for dinner if I could. And kids are evil – no argument here!” the father of one said.
Ordained eight years ago, Reverend O’Connor said he did not find Hell Pizza offensive, irreligious or blasphemous.
“I find it amusing and would probably use it for sermon illustration,” he said.
“Christianity is not about rules and regulations, it’s about having a relationship with Jesus.”
Reverend O’Connor said St Andrews was a growing church with a number of young adults among the congregation.
“It’s important to interact with cultures that surround us, not standing back and labelling everything as evil.
“I’m just a normal bloke who likes having a beer, watching the footy and who loves Jesus,” he said.
“Hell is a real place, but it’s unhelpful for Christians to be jumping up and down about a pizza shop. We’re on about Jesus, not about being anti-everything,” he said.
The pizza chain, which began in Wellington in 1996, also has stores in Britain, Ireland and opened its first Canadian store last month.
The restaurant’s Australian chairman Mike Hird was unavailable for comment yesterday.